Arizona Helping Hands provides beds, cribs to children in need

For the fifth consecutive year, local charity Arizona Helping Hands has set a new annual record for their service to Arizona’s children in foster care.

As of Sept. 30, AHH has provided beds or cribs to 2,204 children, exceeding the 2016 total of 2,003 — with three months left in the year.

Arizona Helping Hands has provided more than 2,000 beds to children this year. (submitted photo)

In 2013, learning that there was no place in the state of Arizona that would provide a family that just had a child dropped on their doorstep, AHH swooped in to fill that void, according to a press release. The organization continually tries to expand the services to meet the needs of the more than 17,000 children in foster care in Arizona.

“To us it was unimaginable that a child that had already endured tough times in their short lives didn’t even have a safe place to sleep,” Dan Shufelt, president and CEO of AHH said in a prepared statement.

“We heard of children who were placed into care, primarily with family members, who were sleeping on the floor, or fighting over whose turn it was for the sofa. Our program has been instrumental in changing that dynamic. Families come to us for support from all over Arizona, traveling from Kingman, Yuma, the Native American communities and every corner of the state to receive a bed for their child to sleep on.”

Every day of the week, the organization’s warehouse is a full of activity. On some days clients load up pick up trucks, vans and trailers with as many as 20 beds to be taken home to give children a spot of refuge in a troubled life. All of the bedding items provided by AHH are brand new, and a twin bed set consists of the complete package, including sheets and pillows, the press release stated.

“A family can take our units home to be set up and children will sleep in their own spot of refuge tonight. We send families off with messages of sweet dreams for children in their care,” Mr. Shufelt said in the prepared statement.

Of the children placed in foster care, 45 percent are in “kinship placements,” with extended family members who are not prepared to add to their family, the press release stated. Many of the immediate physical needs are taken care of by AHH in the hope that the limited family resources can be utilized for daily care and support of the children.

In addition to beds and cribs, AHH provides other items every family needs — clothing, diapers, personal care packages — and celebrates children with personalized birthday packages.

“We want to let children know that their community cares about them,” Mr. Shufelt said in a prepared statement. “We will make them safe and comfortable, and we will show them that we care and want them to have a happy, positive life.”

Funding for purchasing all those beds and cribs comes primarily from individual donors through the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit. Arizona taxpayers can donate up to $1,000 and receive a dollar for dollar tax credit on their state tax return. To donate or learn more visit www.azfostertaxcredit.org.

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