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updated: Mar 03, 2012, 9:15 AM
The Assistance League® of Santa Barbara has a mission statement dedicated to improving lives in the greater Santa Barbara area. Nowhere is that more evident than in it's fostering friends program. Over 12 years ago, one ALSB member became aware of the plight of children in the foster care system. While there are families who try to take a youth into their home, there are many more children than available homes. The social services network tries to keep families and children together by reuniting them with relatives or parents if they were removed from their birth home. Often this does not work and the children are passed from home to home to group institutional care. These poor kids become so alone that they often become rebellious when abandoned. At age 18, they emancipate from any funding support and are left to face life on their own. All this has happened through no fault of the child. Without any support system, he or she may very likely end up homeless.
Twelve years ago, the beginning of "Fostering Friends" became a philanthropic program of the league. Teens, referred by case workers, were taken shopping for clothing necessities twice a year. The duffel bag project developed from the realization that many of these kids were leaving the system with a plastic bag of a few meager belongings. Rolling duffels were purchased and filled with blankets, towels, tool kits, cookbooks, flashlights, alarm clock radios, school/stationary supplies, first aid kits, picture frames, disposable cameras, etc. The Fostering Friends program continues to expand with advocacy, emotional support and assisting to help to know where to turn next. Additionally, league members shop for small children in shelters to provide clothing and school/educational supplies. The Assistance League has helped to build coalitions and alliances with and for those agencies also who strive to help this very needy population. These kids belong to all of us and ALSB hopes to help them find a better tomorrow.
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