Taylor Christensen is an Arizona State student who started volunteering at Helen’s Hope Chest in September as part of her service-learning project. She wasn’t sure what to expect when she started working at the free clothing “store” for foster children. But after a few weeks working with foster families and children she decided to share her experience through Mesa United Way’s “Faces of Need — and Hope” project:
“I have little experience with the foster family community,” Christensen wrote. “After spending only two weeks working with Mesa United Way, I was wonderfully surprised by my passion to support the foster community.
“Today two teenage boys came in for an appointment. They both are a part of the same group home and are 17 years old. As first-time customers, I am supposed to offer the foster children a blanket and stuffed animal, however I was hesitant to do so because of their age. I didn’t want to embarrass the high school boys, and I figured they thought they may be too old for such a thing. Yet, I offered the stuffed animals anyway.
“I couldn’t believe the excitement in their eyes. I took them to the wall of stuffed animals, and they had a blast picking out their very own from the collection. I then told them to pick out some PJs too. The response: ‘Really?! We get pajamas too?’ They were overjoyed by the clothes, shoes and personal items provided to them by Helen’s Hope Chest. It was a wonderful sight to see.
“Spending time at Helen’s, I have learned an abundance of information regarding the increase in the number of foster kids and decrease in the number of foster families. I have been made aware of foster families’ lack of government support and funding. Learning of these issues and seeing my own joy and passion when working with these children has even got me thinking about fostering myself in the future, a thought I had not had previous to working with Helen’s Hope Chest.”