FANS helps Chandler kids, others in need SanTan Sun News

FANS helps Chandler kids, others in need

FANS helps Chandler kids, others in need
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By COLLEEN SPARKS
Managing Editor

Thousands of children and teenagers in Arizona are homeless, a problem that a Chandler nonprofit is fighting by teaming up with many partners.

FANS Across America Charitable Foundation started in 2006 with the mission of working with professional sports franchises, athletes and fans to aid families with seriously ill and special needs children.

However, it expanded its goal in 2010 to start helping even more people who could use a boost.

It started assisting families in transition, including homeless students, as well as children who are victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual violence and homeless veterans.

In the 2017-18 school year more than 28,000 homeless children and youths were enrolled in Arizona schools, a FANS report said.

FANS works closely with the Chandler Unified School District and its CARE Center, to provide school supplies, clothes and other necessities to youths in need.

The nonprofit also offers assistance to children, teens and adults struggling through many other agencies and entities including nonprofit AZCEND, the Chandler Police Department, the City of Chandler, nonprofit Homeward Bound and nonprofit A New Leaf.

“Every child in our country is entitled to an education,” said George Macedon, president/executive director of FANS Across America Charitable Foundation.

“The general perception of homeless is people standing on the street corners with the cardboard. The true homeless are not panhandlers. I’m probably very blessed knowing every day that we’re gonna be able to help somebody. We understand the need,” Macedon added.

Last year FANS assisted 1,150 children and their families out of its facility at 78 W. Ray Road — known as the FANS Locker Room.

Social workers and other advocates refer families and children in crisis to the FANS center to get clothes, shoes, dental hygiene, school supplies and household items.

FANS is involved with and a contributor to Operation Back to School Chandler, in which For Our City Chandler and several other agencies provide backpacks filled with school supplies, shoes, uniforms, socks and underwear every year to benefit Chandler children and teens.

FANS is primarily responsible for supplying socks and underwear for the youths at Operation Back to School Chandler.

The nonprofit also provides backpacks filled with school supplies, as well as school uniforms year-round as needed by the Chandler Unified School District and referring agencies.

FANS offers a “variety of services and support” to students every year, according to Katie Kahle , director of the Chandler CARE Center.

The CARE Center, based in Galveston Elementary School, is a family resource center that offers access to medical, dental, counseling and social services. Its facility includes the Chandler Children’s Medical and Dental Clinic, another nonprofit.

“They not only provide the diapers that keep our diaper bank running, they also are a resource for families in need of household items, large toiletries, school supplies, clothing and shoes,” Kahle said of FANS.

“We work with FANS to support CUSD students, which includes a partnership that allows us to refer families in crisis to FANS for support,” she continued, adding:

“In addition, FANS has provided the CARE Center with toys for our holiday distribution, hygiene items to give to families in our food bank, laundry soap, and more. All these donations support the work we do collaboratively to meet the basic needs of our families.”

FANS is also instrumental in For Our City Chandler, which includes involvement in holiday drives and distributions, as well as Operation Back to School Chandler.

FANS gave away 85,000 diapers to families in need last year through its Diaper Bank and provided 1,500 youths and 450 families with winter holiday gifts in 2018.

FANS Chandler Compadres Kids Closets are set up in 14 locations in Title One schools, monitored by school nurses or counselors, as well as at partnering agencies and domestic violence shelters.

Kids can get toothbrushes, toothpaste, lice-killing shampoo, feminine hygiene products and other crucial, emergency-related items in those closets.

Macedon said many families that get help from FANS had been in good shape financially but things beyond their control happened and “everything was taken from them.”

“You learn never to pass judgment on anybody,” he said.

Macedon said FANS also works with Chandler Police Victim Services Unit to help children who escaped dangerous situations. Since they sometimes have nothing else but the clothes on their back, FANS provides them with clothes, toiletries and other necessities.

One of FANS’ biggest partners is the Chandler Compadres nonprofit organization, which has supported Kids Closets.

FANS collaborates with many organizations around Maricopa County including Maryvale Revitalization Corporation, Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation, Veterans Administration East Valley, VA Homeless Veterans Assistance, ASU Project Humanities and St Peter’s Indian Mission.

Macedon spent many years working in the consumer electronics business, as well as in the financial services and risk management sector, serving in executive-level positions before retiring in 2009.

“I made a dedicated commitment to taking FANS to the next level to give back,” he said. “I had a good corporate career and my wife did. I’m not a golfer, fisher, camper. I’m blessed to be able to do this and have the support of my wife.”

Information: fansacrossamerica.org

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