“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” With that powerful quote in mind from Charles Dickens, The Law Office of Robert A. Dodell and staff toured Arizona Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that helps families with children in foster care. President & CEO, Dan Shufelt, kindly escorted us through their facility.
Our law office works on multiple adoptions a year for families who are either foster parents or relative or non-relative placements of children who are wards of the court and in the legal custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS). It’s fulfilling to assist bringing families together via adoption, but we wanted to take it one step further and make sure these selfless families knew about organizations like Arizona Helping Hands.
So, what does Arizona Helping Hands help with? Well, it seems like everything!
If a foster family needs a bed or crib for a child, Arizona Helping Hands will provide one at no cost. Donations from the public, primarily through the Arizona foster care tax credit program have provided funding to supply 3,338 beds in 2018 alone to children in foster care. But that’s not all! Arizona Helping Hands also assists with clothing, diapers, books, etc., for foster families and DCS placements in need. These families need only bring their Notice to Provider from DCS, fill out the Arizona Helping Hands’ “in need” application or call for a service appointment for this assistance. https://www.azhelpinghands.org/basic-2/
Our tour of the Arizona Helping Hands facility blew us away. The quiet and modest office in front completely belied the magic in back. The large warehouse, where donations of all kinds are stored in neatly packed aisles, was abuzz with activity and excitement. Volunteers lined up, assembly-style, chatted and laughed as they efficiently packed goods at long tables between the aisles. Some volunteers packed backpacks filled with school supplies for kids transferring to a new school. Over 6,500 backpacks were filled last year with age-appropriate supplies and given to foster children as the result of requests made by DCS placements, court appointed special advocates (CASA’s), DCS and tribal caseworkers.
Other volunteers packed personal care kits filled with basic toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., for foster kids frequently placed in care with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s harder still, when you’ve been removed from the only family you’ve ever known and it’s your birthday. Arizona Helping Hands thought of that too. We watched in awe as personalized birthday gift bags for kids in DCS care were swiftly assembled with gift-wrapped goodies including toys, books and other treats. Sometimes even a bicycle accompanies the birthday gift bag! Families can apply online for a birthday donation at https://www.azhelpinghands.org/birthday-dreams/ 2-4 weeks in advance of the child’s birthday. Of course, Arizona Helping Hands does not stop at birthdays; holiday toy drives are a must as well. Over 30,000 toys were donated last year! https://www.azhelpinghands.org/toydrive/
Whether you’re a DCS placement in need or you want to donate your time, goods or money to Arizona Helping Hands, reach out to them. They’re wonderfully organized and accomplish so much with just over 7% overhead and virtually no government support. Aside from corporate donations, most of the support is from individual donations via the Foster Care tax credit program, where a taxpayer receives a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against their Arizona State income tax liability for annual contributions. The credit is $1000 for a married couple or $500 for a single person. https://www.azhelpinghands.org/aztaxcredit-html/
It is a wonder thing when you have a foster child in your home, or when you give of yourself to an organization that lightens a foster child’s burden. Check out how the Robert A. Dodell adoption team can help you and your family.