Community Won’t Let COVID-19 Ruin Halloween for Foster Children
As if this year wasn’t scary enough, many children will not be trick-or-treating this Halloween due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, our donors won’t let the spooky season go uncelebrated for hundreds of foster children who will be receiving treat bags filled with goodies this Halloween in lieu of social gatherings.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, studies show that “foster youth often have difficulty participating in everyday activities” and therefore encourages social work agencies and resource families to provide as much age-appropriate activities and experiences as possible. This is why the Children’s Foundation of America (CFA) works closely with the community to provide such opportunities. We recognize the importance of the chance to feel like a “normal” kid, particularly during a pandemic that has further restricted access to everyday activities.
To help accomplish this project, Image Source provided large bags of candy, Sysco donated cases of individually packed sleeves of Oreos, CFA volunteer Paula Leal donated toothbrushes, volunteers made ghoulish cards, and CFA board member Carla Kingsbury provided spider rings and festive bags to hold the treats.
Our Volunteer Coordinator, Briana Calderon, held multiple virtual volunteer activities to create handmade Halloween cards for each foster youth. Briana said, “It was wonderful to see all the creative cards that all of our volunteers made for the youth. Our volunteers really took the time to create some individualized cards.”
In addition, CFA supporter Jacqueline Legazcue, held a “Community Crafternoon” on Zoom with the focus being our card-making initiative, donating several more cards to the cause. “Thank you for holding this activity for us to help the kids,” said participant Clare Miranda.
In total, over 20 volunteers and community partners helped make this project a success! If you’d like to Be the Difference for children in need, call our office at 800.KIDS.730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer. The holidays are coming up and we could use your help! Visit our volunteer page to sign up now!
Jenelle Phillips, Director of Development
Jenelle oversees the day-to-day operations and staffing of the Foundation, which includes event planning, volunteer coordination, community outreach, marketing and donor relations. Above all, Jenelle’s focus is to identify and access resources in order to help children heal, learn and thrive. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University Fullerton and is very involved in the community. She is active in her church and owns an art gallery. Her volunteer contributions to the community have been recognized by Senator Portantino, Assemblymember Holden and the Claremont Village Marketing Group.
Hero Highlight: Makayla Oas
At just 17 years old, Makayla Oas is doing amazing things. A junior in high school, she attends a boarding school in Connecticut and plans to pursue a career in business. She dreams of creating two businesses: one for-profit and one non-profit.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Makayla and her schoolmates were suddenly sent home leaving most of their belongings behind. Switching from boarding school to school at home as been difficult for her but she says, “If it is hard for me then it must be even harder for children who are at a disadvantage. This is what drove me to search for ways that I could help them.”
Makayla saw her friends supporting foster youth online and began doing some research. She found the Children’s Foundation of America’s campaign to support children in need during the COVID-19 crisis and reached out to help. She worked with her dad, a business owner, to search for ways they could help.
“My dad has many friends who have businesses and he helped me reach out to them to ask for hand sanitizer donations,” she said. During a time when supplies were scarce, they were able to provide 7 large bottles of hand sanitizer and 100 masks, which the Foundation distributed to foster youth on residential campuses.
One day when she starts her non-profit, Makayla hopes to help children in foster care. Her passion to help these children was inspired by her grandmother, who was a foster parent. She was impressed by her grandmother and felt empathy for the children she would foster. “They weren’t always provided the resources they needed,” she said.
She also hopes to create a tutoring group to help children in foster care in the near future and says she is “willing to put in all the work that is needed to help these children in need.” The foundation is so grateful to be partnering with such great heroes like Makayla who strive to Be the Difference in the lives of children in need.
Isabel Millward-Pena, Communications Specialist
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. Prior to her work at the Foundation, 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.
Hero Highlight: Tikel Davis and The Society of Mentorship for Minority Women and Girls
The Society of Mentorship for Minority Women and Girls (SMMWG) is an organization who vow to serve their time as leaders for females from various walks of life by driving social change, unity, and education. They started their journey in November 2019 and have been working diligently to ensure they are prepared to help where needed. Tikel Davis is the founder and president of SMMWG and saw the need for help during the COVID-19 outbreak. So, for her birthday, she made it her goal to give back.
Tikel works for an air space company called Northrop Grumman as a Mission Assurance Engineer. She is considered an essential worker and has been needed for additional hours due to the crisis. However, she is making sure SMMWG continues to be active in the community. During the stay-at-home order, she and her organization have been working with a nursing home and reached out to the Children’s Foundation of America to support foster youth living on a residential campus in Apple Valley.
Since Tikel recently relocated to California from Arkansas, she spent some time on Google searching for local organizations that need help. She got in contact with Gail Polk, our Community Outreach Coordinator, and found out about the needs of Trinity Youth Services’ Apple Valley campus, a short-term residential therapeutic program for foster youth.
In an effort to keep youth occupied on campus during quarantine, Gail and Campus Director, Elizabeth Tamoush, coordinated with Tikel to provide activities for the kids. Together, they planned a “Sip and Paint Party.” SMMWG held a fundraiser and collected almost $300, which was used to purchase art supplies including paint brushes, pallets and jars of paint. They also purchased snacks like popcorn, chips and cookies as well as apple juice, punch and soda to sip.
For those struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis, Tikel’s advice is to “Really understand within yourself, where your strength comes from. We are bigger than our circumstances,” she said. “We can overcome whatever circumstances are thrown our way.”
Children in need fall through the cracks during crisis, which is why it is more important than ever to get involved. The Children’s Foundation of America appreciates the amazing support of our donors. We couldn’t accomplish what we do without you! It is thanks to amazing individuals and organizations such as Tikel’s at the Society of Minority Women and Girls that we can Be the Difference for so many. If you would like to be a hero for children in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, reach out to us at email@example.com or donate on our website.
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.
COVID-19 Crisis Relief for Children in Foster Care
Agencies providing direct services to children in need are among the most affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. The Children’s Foundation of America is working to respond to this crisis and the needs of these agencies as well as the children and families they provide services to.
Our partners at Trinity Youth Services care for children 24/7/365 with foster care and adoption programs as well as services on Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program campuses. Though they are paying close attention to the fluid situation and are taking steps to be as agile and proactive as possible, they are facing unique challenges.
School closures and the subsequent lack of immediate childcare and eldercare options for foster families who work, and for campus staff who have young children or adult relatives they care for at home, have created an increased burden on those who need to work but cannot and those who can work and are covering additional shifts. Agencies like Trinity are committed to providing uninterrupted programs and services but need our assistance.
At this time, we are asking for your help to provide for additional direct-support staffing and supplies. Facilities are nearing the end of basic essential supplies (toilet paper, hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, basic cold and flu medications) and are running out of the more critical preventive supplies, such as face masks and gloves. Because of school closures, an additional meal per day and more snacks than usual are needed for youth living on campuses, as well as activities to keep youth occupied while in quarantine.
If you are able to help with a contribution of any size, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for remembering the children in the midst of this unprecedented, global concern. Your kindness and thoughtfulness will not be forgotten.