Teen shopping is an annual event hosted by our Adoption and Foster Care program. It gives teens who are in foster, adoptive or kinship homes the opportunity to shop for the holidays. Each teen is given a Target gift card and paired up with a volunteer to shop. The gift cards can be used for anything they choose to purchase, although every teen uses it as an opportunity to buy gifts for their foster/adoptive parents, birth parents and siblings.
Teens and volunteers meet at Child Crisis Arizona for breakfast and to plan their trip. The pairs get to know each other while looking through ads before heading to the store. After all of the purchases are made, everyone returns to Child Crisis Arizona for lunch and to wrap their presents. This year 56 teens were given the opportunity to shop for the holidays.
A majority of the volunteers for teen shopping are currently in the licensing and certification process to become foster or adoptive parents. This event gives prospective parents the opportunity to spend time with teens in foster care. There are many misconceptions regarding teens in foster care, sometimes leading to a negative reputation and leaving many without a home. In Arizona, there are over 3,500 teens in out-of-home care. Approximately a third of those teens are placed in group homes because there will be no foster family homes with beds which are available.
Alexis, a former foster child, lived with her foster parents for 10 years before aging out of the system. She is currently doing well, living on her own and going to college, and is invited back to Teen Shopping each year. Having been a teen in foster care, Alexis is passionate about explaining the importance of individuals being open to fostering and adopting teens. “Foster children are no different than non-foster children. Yes, some may go through rough circumstances but ultimately it is not their fault. We all can agree that events in our lives make us who we are today. So let’s invite these children into homes where they can have positive life experiences and time to change and heal their broken hearts. Remember, it’s just like raising your own kids; it’s not easy but it is very rewarding,” said Alexis.
There are families out there waiting for little ones, and teens out there waiting for families. Thanks to our volunteers and donors, our teens have a fun experience shopping for their loved ones.