Now more than ever, Arizona foster kids need a hand SanTan Sun News

Now more than ever, Arizona foster kids need a hand

Now more than ever, Arizona foster kids need a hand
Opinion
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By DAN SHUFELT
Guest Writer

For many children in foster care, birthday celebrations are not ever expected. 

I’ve met many teens who have never celebrated their special day.  For teens in group homes, the March party might be held on the 15th, and no mention is made when Alicia’s birthday comes on the 25th.

Many whose birthdays fall during March and April this year will be able to relate to Alicia.

Arizona Helping Hands provided essential needs to the 14,000+ children in our State’s foster care system.

We provide beds and cribs to give children a Safe Place to Sleep.  We help foster families become licensed for fostering by supplying home safety items including fire extinguishers, first aid kits and more.  We provide back-to-school supplies, personal care items, diapers, clothing and other basic needs to help children who have experienced abuse and neglect in their short lives.

We also go well beyond the basics; we seek to bring joy into the lives of boys and girls who have not experienced that emotion enough. 

We want children to know every day, but especially on their birthday, that they are loved, and that we care. Our Birthday Dreams program assembles gift packages for children in foster care.

  Learning that Samantha likes crafts or Pedro is a Paw Patrol fan, we will assemble a few toys and a book in a personalized gift package for their birthday.

In 2019 alone, Arizona Helping Hands provided 3,596 children with a gift package, and we added in a party pack – cake mix, frosting and candles. 

All of our efforts were to say that YOU MATTER. 

Children in foster care should have a celebration.  In these days of the coronavirus, this message takes on an additional meaning.  We want these boys and girls to know that outside of the house they can’t leave today is a community that supports them, that wants to say “Happy Birthday to You!”

Perhaps you can relate to children in foster care whose life experiences have never included a party. Our program seeks to change that. Even without our army of volunteers to help us fill packages while they observe stay-at-home directives, we are sending our Birthday Dreams to boys and girls every day, especially these days.

These kids deserve a celebration, now more than ever.

Arizona Helping Hands is open.  We are shipping out beds, cribs and birthday dreams to make a difference for children in foster care.

We need community support to continue to fill birthday dreams, and to provide essential needs to thousands of children in foster care each year. Arizona taxpayers can donate $1,000 per year as a married couple to support our work, and receive every dollar back on your Arizona tax return.

  Contributions are due by April 15 to claim as a credit on your 2019 tax return.

Help us bring joy and hope to children in foster care.

-Dan Shufelt is president/CEO of Arizona Helping Hands. Information: 480-889-0604, dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org, azhelpinghands.org.

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