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Pack a bag and help Arizona foster kids gear up for back to school

Help send Arizona foster children back to school in style.

Help send Arizona foster children back to school in style.

Even though we’re knee deep in 100 degree temperatures, it’s already time for Arizona kids to go back to school. For many that means fun back to school shopping, a stylish new backpack, cool tools and an exciting year ahead. But for many in the Arizona foster system, the most basic school supplies are hard to come by. That’s why five local organizations have joined forces to send foster kids back to school in style – and you can help!
The Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF), Voices for CASA Children, AASK and Arizona Helping Hands (AHH) and the Assistance League of Phoenix have come together with a common goal, and that goal is steep: provide 4,000 foster kids with stuffed backpacks filled with the physical tools they need to succeed. In 2015 the AFFCF ran the drive on their own and brought in 1,200 backpacks.  Together, they groups are hoping to help more fo the 19,000 kids in Arizona’s foster care system.
According to Dan Shufelt, President and CEO of AHH, “It only makes sense that we work together to expand the reach and impact of this project. Together we can be more efficient, maximize our buying power and eliminate any duplication of efforts.”
There are a number of ways you can join in to help. The biggest impact to be made is through sponsorship, either helping to sponsor the program or sponsoring a drive. Your business, organization or community group can run the drive, buy supplies, fill the backpacks and/or serve as a drop off location for the backpacks and supplies. Boxes and posters will be provided by the drive – you just have to promote it!
Of course individual donations are always welcome and add up to help many children, too. You can simply purchase a pre-filled backpack for one of the three age groups. Or buy your own supplies and drop them off at any Mattress Firm store in the Valley.
In addition to school supplies, the Assistance League of Phoenix is helping outfit some kids with school uniforms in their Operation School Bell® program. This program focuses on children in poverty who have been identified by their schools (usually kids on the free/reduced lunch program), and they have stepped in to provide over 200 children with the clothing basics to begin the school year.
And it should be noted that the Arizona tax credit for foster care charitable organizations has increased for 2016. You can now donate up to $500 (single) or $1,000 (married) within the tax year and 100% of your contribution will be credited back on your Arizona taxes. Thirty-six children enter the Arizona foster care system every day, so this is an easy, no-cost way to make a huge difference in the lives of foster kids throughout state!
The back to school drive runs through September 4. But all of the five organizations host drives and programs year-round, so the chance to give and help is always present. Future and on-going programs include the Shoe Drive, Dream Kits and Cultural Programs. These are great ways to help Arizona foster children.
Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
[email protected]
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