MERCER— The paint may not always find canvas at this sip and paint, where the youngest artists will be staring at their parents' kneecaps.

The Friends of Children's Aid Society is hosting the event to raise money for the Children's Aid Society of Mercer County, a nonprofit based in Mercer.

It's the first time the organization has hosted such an event, and perhaps the first time anyone has done so with children, joked Mary Calvin, president of Friends of Children's Aid Society.

Calvin wanted to keep the first paint and sip small, so registration is limited to 26 people or 13 pairs of parent and child. It is $25 for the parent/child pair and includes painting supplies, cookies and punch. To reserve a ticket, call Calvin at 724-981-0591.

If it goes well, Calvin anticipates more sip and paints in the future.

Calvin has been volunteering with the organization for 20 years and continues to do so because there is always something that the children need, she said.

The money raised from the event will go toward a general fund that will pay for whatever the society can't afford, Calvin said. In the past, that has ranged from duffel bags for foster kids, Christmas presents and a sink for the daycare center.

The Children's Aid Society began in 1889 as an adoption agency, said executive director Claudia Leyde. In 1919, a local doctor sold his house to the society at a discounted price, and it became an orphanage.

Originally for boys and girls, the orphanage later became a group home for girls, Leyde said. In the early 90s, the group home closed, but The Children's Aid Society has continued to offer services for children and families.

One of its newest programs is a mentorship for children aging out of the foster care system or a group home. Many of them have never had to go grocery shopping, cook dinner or pay rent. They also might need help creating a job application or looking for work — the list goes on and on, Leyde said.

All of a sudden, these 18-year-old kids, now adults, are responsible for all of these things and so much more.

“Some of these kids have absolutely nowhere to go," Leyde said. "... So they need help. Our mentorship program is to help them navigate all of that.”

Additional services include family life programs in Mercer County Jail that teach inmates parenting and life skills and anger management, which is what many people say is their biggest problem, Leyde said.

The Children's Aid Society also offers a course for families who have children with mental health needs. The program help families understand what works best for their children so that they can function better together.

It also operates an adoption agency and a daycare.

Leyde understands that every family and child is different. Being part of a loving family is what helps children feel special, regardless of what that family may look like, she said.

"We're just trying to make things better for children and family," Leyde said. "It's a very individualized setting.”

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