Twenty years ago, Kathy and Paul Donaldson and their friends began doing a good deed a day as a tribute to Kathy’s sister, Patty Neroni, who died of cancer at the age of 34. It was Patty’s dying wish, and that one good deed a day has turned into a multitude of great deeds for thousands of foster children in the Department of Child Safety system. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is basically what Arizona Helping Hands relies on. They count on the help of volunteers and the community donations. And, like a revolving door, the need is never-ending.
Arizona Helping Hands is a nonprofit organization that is built on the help of volunteers all working together to help reach the ultimate goal: fulfilling the basic needs of children in the foster care system.
Need Never Stops
Presently, there are 15,000 children in foster care in Arizona. This number, however, is at a moment of time. Over the last year, close to 30,000 children have been part of the DCS system. People who have opened their hearts and homes to provide for these kids need assistance. Plus, almost half of foster providers are family members fostering their relatives' children when parents are unable to care for them in the Kinship Program. The daily challenge is to have enough beds and supplies for each child. These supplies must be replenished each month.
“When you do the right thing for the right reason, pieces fall into place," says Dan Shufelt, Arizona Helping Hands president and CEO.
Dan joined the organization in 2001. As a practicing CPA, he was appointed to treasurer on the board. Dan has worked diligently to help spread the word and work with other organizations to help Arizona Helping Hands meet the growing needs of children in the foster care system.
Yes, things do fall into place when there’s a need. The help comes through support and donations. Individuals and organizations come in and assist with their time and generous financial gifts. In September 2013, Arizona legislators passed the first Foster Care Tax Credit program, and in November 2013, the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit was initiated. The following month, generous supporters made a huge impact with their donations, which was the engine that fueled the organization’s growth. A married couple can give $1,000 each year, and single people can give $500 and get every dollar back as a credit on their Arizona income tax return. Last year, Arizona Helping Hands received $1.5 million in donations through this program.
Growing with the Need
Arizona Helping Hands has outgrown its present location in the Scottsdale Airpark. Through the wonderful support of the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, the Foster Care Resource Center is targeted to open for service to families this fall. This new 18,000-square-foot facility is more than double the existing space, providing more offices and a much larger warehouse area to house all the products in one location. Here they’ll be able to partner with other charities that are committed to helping a child in need.
“We’re excited about the new facility. As we move forward, Arizona Helping Hands will be able to continue touching countless lives in a very important way,” Dan says.
Ways to Help
- Financial support is always needed, whether it’s a one-time tax credit gift, a monthly contribution or a contribution to the building fund that is going on right now for the completion of the new facility. The beds and cribs are all purchased and provided new—275 per month—so financial support is crucial to keep up with the demand.
- Gently used kids clothing is the only item distributed that is not brand-new.
- Personal care kits
- Backpacks for the Back to School Program
- Home safety products
- Birthday gifts: toys, games, books and puzzles
- Birthday party supplies: cake mixes, frosting and more
- The organization supplied toys to 17,0000-plus kids in 2017.
Jump in and help by filling backpacks, assembling personal care kits or decorating birthday dream bags. Consider sponsoring a community drive to raise money. Get a box to put in your business to collect toys and other necessary items. Like Arizona Helping Hands on Facebook and then share the information with your followers. For more information, visit ArizonaHelpingHands.org.