There are currently more than 17,000 kids in foster care in the State of Arizona. In 2016, four agencies who support these children banded together to provide backpacks filled with school supplies to 5,000 boys and girls. This year, they want to exceed that amazing accomplishment and assist even more kids throughout Arizona.
Arizona Friends of Foster Children, Voices for Foster Children and AASK are working in conjunction with Arizona Helping Hands to fill all the requests received through an online application. More than 3,000 children have already applied for backpacks which will be distributed from the Arizona Helping Hands warehouse in Scottsdale on three distribution days, July 21, 28 and 29 from 9 am to noon for families with children in foster care who have been preapproved. Additionally, backpacks will be provided to the Department of Child Safety Central Region, Prescott Valley, Flagstaff, Tucson and other statewide offices. Navajo Child Services and other tribal offices also will receive bulk distributions, taking this year’s number well above the 5,000 mark – if community support can make it possible.
This year’s Back-to-School Drive has truly been a community effort and coming down the home stretch many are stepping up to lend their help. Businesses including General Mills, Hollister, MC Residential, Stryker and others have held collection drives to gather backpacks and supplies. Wells Fargo, Troon Golf, Philadelphia Insurance Companies and more have volunteered to sort supplies and pack them in the backpacks. Executive Council Charities matched corporate sponsorship funds from El Chorro, Babbo and more. Individuals also can assist by buying a backpack filled with supplies for as little as $25. Donations are still needed to fill all of the requests and help kids in foster care go back to school prepared.
Pam Harris, DCS Central Region Community Coordinator says that “The DCS Central Region is so appreciative of the backpacks that are provided by Arizona Helping Hands and their partners. These backpacks provide confidence to the children we serve to start the new school year fully prepared. It is imperative that these children are equipped with the essentials to ensure their success and AHH makes this happen! Having the supplies they need allows children in foster care to feel a sense of normalcy and not feel left out. Thank you to all at Arizona Helping Hands for the time and effort you put into this program and all you do for boys and girls in foster care.”
Dan Shufelt, President and CEO of AHH says that “Arizona Helping Hands is always collaborating with community partners to more efficiently serve children and families. The Department of Child Services refers to us as ‘The Care Barn.’ Our 8,000 square foot warehouse is bursting at the seams with supplies to help make these families lives more comfortable and safe. From beds and cribs, to clothing and diapers to home safety items, we have it all!”
To team up and help this huge endeavor, visit azhelpinghands.org/help-back-school.