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Kids to Love and Camp Hope Alabama reunite siblings in foster care through weekend getaways

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MADISON, Ala. - Foster children face so many hardships, often including separation from their siblings. But, there is a place in Alabama that brings brothers and sisters together.

Beverly Owings, Director of Outreach & Advocacy for Camp Hope Alabama, and Lee Marshall, Founder and CEO of Kids to Love, have a heart for a children in need.

"Family is so important," Marshall said. "One of the downsides of foster care is that a lot of times it tears family apart for the right reasons: their safety and security."

Seventy percent of kids in foster care share a blood line with another foster child, but they do not always share an address.

"A lot of times it is the best opportunity to separate them for a while, kind of get behaviors calmed down," Marshall said. "Camp Hope allows them to stay connected while those behaviors can get corrected."

Fortunately, Camp Hope Alabama in Wetumpka brings foster children together for one weekend per month.

"A lot of times when children come into foster care, DHR does not have homes where they can be placed together and so they're placed separated, only visiting some of the children once a month, a couple of times a month," Owings explained. "Camp Hope gives the children a homelike atmosphere where they come together and spend the weekend together."

Camp Hope gives kids a chance to play, and beginning this week, a chance to learn.

"We have written our own curriculum for a leadership-based camp," Marshall said. "So, our children in foster care will be having fun, but also learning leadership fundamentals, so when they graduate Friday, they'll get a leadership certificate. We're really excited about the change."

Kids to Love and Camp Hope Alabama use some grant money to cover the $400 bill it costs for each child to attend camp. Organizers said it takes a community to give children memories that money cannot buy.

"What we will be able to teach them at Camp Hope is going to be life changing," Marshall said.

Kids to Love is also launching a leadership-based program called "Tenacity Grove." It will help with personal and professional development. It will be offered at both Camp Hope and the Davidson Farm, the future home for girls, in Madison County.

Kids to Love is a nonprofit organization which operates on donations. If you would like to support their mission, you can find donation information on their website, kidstolove.org.