I don’t know about anyone else but I LOVED going school supply shopping as a kid! Yes, it was sort of annoying thinking that summer was drawing to an end but once I got to the store and picked out everything just exactly as I wanted, the annoyance shifted into excitement to show off my Lisa Frank folder and matching notebook! I have vivid memories of that time in my life…full of excitement.
Now I think about getting up, on my first day of school, in a home that is unfamiliar or full of other kids I’m not related to, and dreading that moment when the teacher says “now pull out your notebooks”. No one taking “1st day of (insert grade here)” pictures. The anxiety and overwhelming emotions that rush through me just thinking about that experience are striking.
For kids in foster care getting ready to go back to school can be a difficult time. Not just for practical reasons, but emotional too. A time when kids should be looking forward to new friends, a new year and new things is overrun with stress on how they are going to get the basic things they need to make it through and just “be like everyone else”.
So, on July 22, Foster Arizona is asking YOU to shower 750 kids in the foster care system with love, support….and school supplies during our 2nd Annual School Ready Kids Connection Event. The day will be full of encouragement and special moments as we rally together to get these kids SCHOOL READY, have a little fun and show them they are not forgotten.
Not sure if it’s worth your time? Allow me to share why I think it is…
Last year was my first year as part of the volunteer team for Foster Arizona and my first big Kids Connection Event. It was an incredibly moving experience for me to see the community come together to support these kids. I have worked with a lot of nonprofits and been to my fair share of events…but THIS was different. I had a moment that day that changed me. Changed me forever. Changed my heart and challenged my perceptions…and it was absolutely beautiful.
A young lady, age 16, was extremely apprehensive about being involved and was completely disengaged. At first I took her to be a typical teenager. The “don’t tell me what to do” type. I had a lot going on and it was my first event and I was bothered that she didn’t want to participate. And then I heard her story from her group home lead…how she had just spent her first night EVER away from her family the night before and I immediately found my heart aching for her. Thinking about what that morning must have been like for her. After I spent just a few moments talking to her I realized she was just trying to keep it together…keep from falling apart in front of everyone because she was scared, heartbroken and her world had just flipped upside down. I spent some more individual time with her, walked around with her, picked her school supplies with her, picked out books for her to read — all the while her not saying a word. I brought her back to her group after a while and she seemed calmer. I promised I would come back to check on her soon and to my absolute joy, when I went back to find her a while later she was smiling. SHE WAS SMILING! She was talking and even getting a haircut! It was at that precious moment of just her smile that I realized she just needed someone to stand with her, to walk with her, to talk to her and help her keep it together. To give her some time and some love, even for a short while. It’s a lesson I will never forget and a moment that keeps me humble knowing that these kids just need love. And I will never forget her face with her new back-to-school hairdo!
I ask each of you reading this to get involved and I promise you will walk away with that moment! And you will be forever changed.
There are a number of different ways to get involved! Host a donation drive for school supplies, host a fundraiser to buy school supplies, volunteer your time on the days leading up to the event to prep everything or even better, volunteer your time the day of and we promise you’ll walk away with memories that you will cherish!
Kids Connection Event Team Lead