PHOENIX — A Valley organization that helps families who have taken in children in need, needs your help today. Arizona Helping Hands is a one-stop-shop that not only helps prepare families who are about to become first-time foster families, but the agency is there for these families even after that. From clothing to toys, books, school supplies, and even furniture, Arizona Helping Hands has handed out tens of thousands of donations to families in need.
Liz Richardson, a foster mom with one adopted child and another foster, said when they take in foster children, they often do not get much notice. In some cases, they have been told a child will be placed in their home within 30 minutes. Arizona Helping Hands has stepped up in these times to help Richardson get a crib, toddler bed, bedding, and many other items needed to make their home comfortable for a new foster child who is just coming into their family.
One special program the agency holds dear is their Birthday Wishes program. Every month, the organization helps fulfill 300 birthday wishes for foster children throughout the state. Volunteers consider the child's likes and hobbies while lovingly putting together gift bags that are delivered to each child on their special day.
Dan Shufelt, President and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, says he has talked to some foster children who have never had the opportunity to celebrate a birthday until Arizona Helping Hands came into their lives.
"Every kid deserves to feel special on their birthday," said Shufelt.
Since COVID-19 shut down many businesses and impacted others financially, Shufelt says the donation drives they relied on are no longer taking place, so their collection bins have been running low on supplies. This means the birthday bags are also less full. Despite the challenges, Arizona Helping Hands has been working hard, and has had volunteers digging into their own pockets to fulfill the birthday wishes of children.
Richardson describes how her foster son reacted to his birthday bag when he received it.
"Oh, he was just screaming. He was so excited. They really listened to what he liked and were so good about putting items in there that he would be excited about," said Richardson.
Arizona Helping Hands has an Amazon wish list posted on their website azhelpinghands.org where you can purchase items for children, or you can also sign up to 'adopt- a foster child' for their birthday.
Shufelt says in these tough times, he wonders how the organization will keep going. But, he says they will continue to serve families as best as they can, even through these tough times.
You can check out Arizona Helping Hands' Amazon wish list for children HERE.