Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to School for Foster Kids

Back to school time is such an exciting, wonderful time for children. I remember the anticipation looking forward to the first day of school every year. Buying my new clothes for school and buying the needed supplies were part of the annual ritual.

Each year, it was a new beginning. The new clothes and the brand new notebooks were like a clean slate. The new things helped me mentally step in to the year fresh and enthusiastic.

I did not grow up in a wealthy family by any stretch, but we always had what we needed. I was fortunate to be raised with both my parents there to provide for me and help me along my way.

Foster kids are in a very tough situation. Separated from their families by sometimes horrible circumstances, they find themselves in foster homes, being cared for by people who start out as strangers to them. The money available to care for these kids is nowhere near enough to meet their basic needs.

I came across a wonderful organization here in Seattle a few years ago called, "The Treehouse" which provides a wide variety of support to foster kids. They have some tremendous programs... everything from providing new school clothes and supplies to providing 'coaching to college' mentoring. It is a wonderful organization that makes a difference to countless kids. Their goal is to help foster kids have a more 'normal' experience in their day to day lives.

Here is the website for the Treehouse. Check it out: The Treehouse Website

I have supported various 'drives' that the Treehouse puts on to help these kids. Currently, they are having their back to school drive to collect the things that kids need to start their bright and shiny new school year on the right foot. I have a shopping bag that I will take to the store and pick some things for a foster kid, to let them know that someone cares about them... and wants them to have a great school year.

Whenever I do something like this, I like to involve one of the kids in my life. I have them pick out the things, as though they were shopping for themselves. First of all, I have more confidence in what they would pick out for someone their own age over what I would choose! Secondly, I like for them to think about kids who don't have all of their advantages and share some time and effort to help someone out. It's a win-win situation.

Think about helping out a less fortunate child as they start this new school year. It doesn't have to be a big expense. It doesn't take much to light up a child's face. There are plenty of good organizations out there that provide ways for us to help these kids. I encourage you to find one... and volunteer some time, or some resources to make a difference in a child's future.

Their future... is our future!

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