Help for 1,964 Kids in Foster Care

Photo: From left, Karl Gentes, Dan Shufelt, Jodie Sprayberry, Sherie Siegel, Robert Smith. Leadership teams from the Back to School Clothing Drive and Arizona Helping Hands take a breather during the July 25th event.

For the 7th year in a row, Arizona Helping Hands teamed up with community nonprofit organizations and local businesses to help children in foster care prepare for the challenges of a new school year.

Arizona Helping Hands, in collaboration with Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and the Back to School Clothing Drive, provided free backpacks, along with a complete set of clothing, to 1,964 boys and girls in Arizona’s foster care system at Grand Canyon University on July 25th.  Grade-appropriate backpacks were stuffed with everything from crayons to notebooks, providing children with the necessary supplies needed to start the new school year.

Foundation support from the BHHS Legacy Foundation and Executive Council Charities provided major funding for the project, and individual donors have stepped up by pitching in $25 to buy a new backpack filled with supplies. “It truly takes a village to achieve such big results in our Back to School Drive, and it’s a beautiful thing to see so many coming together to help children who have been abused and neglected to take pride as they go back to school,” says Dan Shufelt, President, and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands.

Local businesses also partnered with Arizona Helping Hands in the effort, sponsoring collection drives or by filling backpacks as a team building experience at the AHH distribution center. This year Applebee’s and Dillard’s among many others have joined the effort. Hundreds of volunteers from Living Spaces, Fiesta Bowl, JPMorgan Chase and more worked hard to help the kids!

“It’s our goal to help boys and girls in foster care walk proud as they begin the new school year,” Shufelt says.  “Once again our community has rallied around this cause to help put a smile on a child’s face, or a spring in their step, as they embark on a new year of school.”

To learn more about the work Arizona Helping Hands does all year long for the 14,000 children in foster care in Arizona, visit


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