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Angel Wings

Carol Hebets Empowers Entire Families to Give Back Through Childhelp's Wings Program

Minnesota native Carol Hebets dreamt of being a kindergarten teacher as a child.

“And while I never did get into teaching in a classroom, my path did lead to helping children as a mother, volunteer, and an advocate,” she says.

Hebets’ path began in her early 20s, when she explored the world. She lived in Hawaii for 18 months, spent nearly half a year backpacking through 17 countries in Europe, and then eventually settled in San Diego.

“I met my husband, Jim, soon after moving there. An Arizona native several generations back, he always had an eye for moving back,” she shares. “After we got married, we made Arizona our forever home in 1985.”

The two would go on to raise five children. Beyond being a busy mother, Hebets sought out ways to give back in the community, joining a number of boards and committees. Among them, she sat on the board for the Arizona Foundation for Women.

“While volunteering with the Foundation, both Jim and I got to know fellow board member Sara O'Meara,” says Hebets. “While we knew Sara was the co-founder of Childhelp, it wasn’t until we got to know both her and co-founder Yvonne Fedderson a little better that we were inspired to get involved in the way we did.”

Hebets and her husband were moved by the hands-on ways in which the organization worked to meet the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children through advocacy, intervention, treatment, prevention, family resilience, and community outreach.

“The numbers are stunning. A report of child abuse is made in the United States, on average, every 10 seconds,” says Hebets.

Hebets would join the Arizona state board for Childhelp, and before long both she and Jim were invited to join Childhelp’s national advisory board. Hebets then committed to spearheading the re-launch the Childhelp Wings program within the organization.  

“Childhelp Wings was initially founded in the early 1980s when Childhelp was based in California, but had not been active in well over a decade,” says Hebets. “At that time, it was a means for mothers and daughters to take part in philanthropy together.”

Hebets re-launched the program in Arizona in 2004, quickly opening it to fathers, sons, uncles, aunts, grandparents, grandchildren, and primary caregivers, as well. Through the program, families volunteer to do everything from making Easter baskets for children in need to adopting entire families during the holidays and providing clothes, toys and other necessary items. Childhelp Wings also educates children volunteering with the program about abuse, neglect, and how to make a difference in ways big and small over the long term.

To raise funds for Childhelp Wings, Hebets and her team put on a children’s fashion show and luncheon each year. This year was to mark its 14th annual event, and in recent years it raised as much as $250,000 to support efforts.

“Amid COVID-19, our planned May fashion show had to be canceled. However we put a new plan in motion in its place called #TheGreatGiveBack,” she explains.  

Through #TheGreatGiveBack, both individuals and families of all ages have developed videos and other resources, each with a call to action on how those in their lives can donate to the cause. Each video has been used on digital platforms since July, with each individual or family having its own portal to accept donations.

“The program culminates in mid-September, when we will celebrate the collective donations earned by hosting a drive-in movie party,” says Hebets. “And, for every $1,000 raised, we are also able to invite a Childhelp’s Children’s Advocacy Center family free of charge.”

To get involved, visit Childhelp.org.

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