“We were able to get a few things from Walmart and my mom sent a care package but with the rough-and-tumble playing in the mud it still isn’t enough.” I hear this all too often from the foster parents that come through the doors of Helen’s Hope Chest. “It just isn’t enough,” “I’ve always fostered older kids and don’t have anything for a 1 year old,” “My nieces came to live with me yesterday, I don’t have any kids of my own, I don’t have anything for kids.” They’re different situations but they all face the same challenge. Taking care of a child, no matter the age, has a big price tag attached. Since 2009, the clothing allowance for children in foster care has been reduced by half. Occasionally I hear from foster parents that the paperwork hasn’t been processed yet so they haven’t begun receiving a stipend. It’s for these reasons that Helen’s Hope Chest was created.
Set up like a clothing boutique, Helen’s Hope Chest is a place where foster families can bring the kids to “shop” for clothing, shoes, books, birthday gifts, hygiene items, and many other items that we see as basic needs for a child. Families can call and make an appointment. There’s no pressure to find items within the household budget; imagine a small shopping spree that allows a child or teen to make their own clothing choices. These small choices make a huge difference in the lives of children. It allows them to express themselves, builds their self esteem, and offers a chance to bond with the adults who are caring for them.
As I sit writing this, I’m listening to the vocalizations of a 20 month old. This is her third visit to Helen’s. On her first visit she received a homemade quilt, stuffed animal, and cloth bag to pack everything in. All of our first timers receive the same, in addition to the clothing. These are small possessions but they have a lasting impact on the kids. It’s something they can call their own and take with them wherever they go next, whether it’s back home, maybe to another family, or through the adoption process.
So give us a call, drop by to see what we’re up to; let us show you that being a foster parent doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. I see newly licensed foster parents who were “only going to take in one child” but then got the call for siblings and how do you say ‘no”? They come in weighed down with the burden and worry of how they are going to care for these little individuals. When they leave Helen’s Hope Chest they are again weighed down but now with clothes, books, toys, art supplies, games, diapers, tooth brushes/paste and less of the burden of “how.”
“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” – Rita F. Pierson
As a foster parent you are that champion. Let us help you.
Manager, Helen’s Hope Chest
126 E University Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85201
Photo credits: Bob Schuster (quilt image) and John Zielonka (store image)