By Mike Bush

(KSDK)-St. Charles, MO- Even when it rains, sometimes it's not enough to keep the sunshine away.

"I've never seen such charity and love before, " says St. Charles County Juvenile Judge Dan Pelikan.

Every Saturday in St. Charles, lazy afternoons turn lively when Vicki Houska opens up her food pantry for foster families.

"Groceries are a necessity, " says Houska. "And this helps them to meet their weekly expenses"

Foster parents do get some money from the state but in Missouri the stipend is among the lowest in the nation.

"It's woefully inadequate in this day and age to cover the cost of food, the cost of clothing, the cost of medical care, " says Pelikan.

No one knows that better than Dani James and her husband Scott. They have 4 kids and three foster children.

"Our 7 children, that's 7 glasses to fill three times a day, " explains Scott James. "That's 7 plates to make three times a day and it's just goes so fast."

Local grocery stores, restaurants and Operation food search supply the provisions.

Houska supplies the compassion.

"Oh my gosh, there are not enough amazing words to describe Miss Vickie, " says Dani James.

When most people were still taking care of their class schedules, Houska was taking care of children. She herself is from a family of seven.

"When I was 20, "she explains, "my father was killed by a drunk driver and I became the legal guardian to the last three kids."

Even after having two boys of their own, Vicki and her husband Tom added to their parenting by fostering.

"Being from big families we thought fostering might be a neat thing, " she says.

Over the years, they took in more than a dozen kids, three of whom they adopted.

"It's not the children's fault. These kids are in care because of the adults. The actions on adults placed their children in foster care, " says Houska with passion.

When they ran out of bedrooms, they stopped taking new kids but never stopped thinking about them. Vicki knew that foster families could always use a helping hand.

The pantry actually started at the Houska home. In fact for three years they had to park their cars on the street because the food pantry was in the garage.

"The families parked in the cul-de-sac which was next to our house so it was just continual in and out of the circle, " says Houska.

"Whats amazing to me is not one neighbor complained, " adds Judge Pelikan.

Then a few months ago, Vicki helped move the needle on donations and the controlled chaos moved out of the garage and to a bigger and more appropriate building. She rented space from OASIS, another non profit and can now serve more than 40 foster families a week.

"They're always thanking me, " says Houska, " and I am always thanking them. Look what they're doing. They are saving lives of these children."

To be a foster parent, you need space in your home and in your heart. And it never hurts to have a friend like Vicki Houska.

"She's able to bring people together and that's why it works, " explains her husband Tom.

Shelves filled with nutrition and affection and where hope never has an expiration date.

For more information: www.fosteradoptscc.org

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