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Communities Combat COVID for Children in Foster Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on children in foster care. They were left with many uncertainties during this time due to mandatory stay-at-home orders, shutdowns, and social distancing requirements. “As we entered the pandemic in March, the Children’s Foundation of America shifted gear from our spring campaign to crisis relief. Instead of our normal outreach for candy and Easter eggs for our Spring Baskets, we were on the hunt for toilet paper and masks for foster care providers,” said CFA Director of Development, Jenelle Phillips. In a time where anxiety and fear are high, donors provided a blanket of support for children in crisis.

An anonymous donor contributed $10,000 to support foster youth during the COVID-19 pandemic and was particularly concerned about the youth on lockdown at Trinity Youth Services’ Short Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP) campuses. They wanted to provide activities to keep youth occupied and understood they would be getting bored going into months of isolation. The population on these campuses are teen boys and they began to get anxious being stuck on campus. The donor made sure to provide a variety of activities including art supplies and outdoor activities. The Foundation worked with campus directors and recreation coordinators to make sure we were providing for their needs and requests.

Over $600 was spent per campus on games and activities purchased on Amazon and shipped directly to care facilities. We provided life size Jenga, Checkers, Chess, Connect4, Laser Tag, Cornhole, Ring Toss Yard Game, Badminton, Uno Attack, Pictionary, and Potato Sock Races, and more which they enjoyed during the stay-at-home-orders. Items such as canvas, sketch books, special sketch pencils, and paint were also purchased for youth to enjoy. Two dorms from the Apple Valley campus specifically requested Karaoke machines and we were able to fulfill that request. “The boys loved it,” said Recreation Coordinator, Luisa Abeyta.

Another $300 was provided to multiple residential campus for take-out parties, with themes such as a Cinco de Mayo, Pizza Party, Movie Nights, Sip and Paint, and Nacho Night. Thanks to the generosity of this donor, foster youth were able to spend their quarantine days with an environment filled with activities and delicious food.

We were also able to purchase headsets for foster care mental health clinical coordinators working remotely. Thanks to the generosity of this donor, up to $1,500 of personal protective equipment for essential workers on residential campuses was covered.

Shortly after the pandemic began, the need for face masks became a necessity. Stitched Together California, is group based in Claremont that brings together people who are willing and able to sew, and match them with front line workers and groups who need face masks sewn, to help protect them and those around them against the COVID-19 virus. They donated approximately 200 reusable masks to help protect foster care staff and youth from the COVID-19 virus. Rob Perhamus from UMakers donated 350 of their “Hero” ear-savers, which are adjustable mask straps to help secure loose-fitting masks.

During a time where supplies were scarce, CFA worked with neighboring businesses to collect toilet paper for foster care facilities. Makala Oas, a 17-year-old entrepreneur, provided seven large bottles of hand sanitizer and 100 masks for foster care workers.

With stay-at-home orders being extended, CFA continued to search for ways to fill the days of the foster youth in quarantine. We connected The Pizza Factory to a local Apple Valley residential campus to enjoy a pizza party. Gail Polk, CFA Community Outreach Coordinator, got in touch with the Society of Mentorship for Minority Women and Girls to raise funds for a “Sip and Paint” party, which included art supplies, some apple cider and chips to snack as they painted. We provided snack packs and worked with other people in the community to provide video games, DVDs and books to enjoy.

Society of Mentorship for Minority Women and Girls

Angelo Colaiacovo, a foster care office director in Monterey Park, donated video games for residential campuses and volunteered to fill in additional hours for any staffing needed during the pandemic. Many foster care workers worked additional hours to meet the challenge of the situation and acts of selflessness were common occurrence.

Thank you to our donors for working hard to Be the Difference for the lives of children in need during a time of uncertainty. If you would like to help the Children’s Foundation of America continue to provide COVID Relief to children in foster care, reach out to us at or call 800.KIDS.730.

Isabel Millward-Pena
Isabel contributes content for our social media, blog, newsletters and promotional materials. She recently earned a bachelor’s degree in English from California State University San Bernardino and is currently working on her master’s degree. Isabel began working with our team as an intern and, luckily for us, never left. Isabel primarily works as Clerical for Trinity Youth Services. Prior to her work there, she was a substitute instructional aid and a supervisor at Starbucks. She has also volunteered as an aid at local elementary schools and notably achieved “Partner of the Quarter” at Starbucks in 2017.

Our 1st Annual “Valenteer” Party

The Children’s Foundation of America wouldn’t get far without our devoted volunteers. Our volunteers care about the difference we make in the lives of children in need and are more than willing to lend a hand.

These amazing people show up to gift wrap for donations at mall, register guests at fundraiser events, help sort through our warehouse, setup fundraisers, stay at info booths sharing about children’s causes and much more.

We love our volunteers and to show our appreciation, we hosted a party for our favorite valentines at our first annual “Valenteer” Party held the day after Valentine’s Day.

Our Community Outreach Coordinator, Rebecca Ustrell, put together a very sweet party, complete with Valentine treats and décor. From candy to goodie bags, to good conversation and activities, we hope our volunteers were feeling the love.

District Representative, Kristi G. Lopez, from the office of Senator Anthony J. Portantino, joined us in recognizing our volunteers by presenting certificates of appreciation. Guests participated in a raffle and a team building activity, which involved writing sticky notes on how we would each individually “Be the Difference!” Some of our favorites included: “Make a positive impact on my community” and “I will use my skills, my passion and my time to help others.”

As guests nibbled from the cheese and veggie platters, volunteers got the opportunity to find out about our upcoming volunteer opportunities including an information booth at the Claremont Pie Festival, sorting at the warehouse, cards for kids initiative, golf tournament and other fundraisers.

If you are interested in joining our volunteer community, contact or call (800) KIDS-730.


Jenelle Rensch, Marketing & Promotions Specialist
Jenelle’s role is to maintain a distinctive look and voice through our online presence, media and community outreach. Before joining the team in 2016, Jenelle worked in the newspaper/magazine industry for nearly a decade as a graphic designer and arts and entertainment editor. Jenelle earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications at California State University Fullerton and has won several awards throughout her career including a few from the National Newspaper Association. Jenelle is also very involved in her community. She owns an art gallery, organizes the local art walk, is on the executive board of the downtown district’s marketing group and is active in her church.
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