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Single Mom Facing Emergency Surgery Finds Support, Safe Place for Children

Earlier this year, Safe Families for Children Alaska received a call from a single mother with two young girls. Mom explained that she needed to have an emergency surgery that would render her incapable of normal movement for a few weeks. Her girls, who are used to being picked up and crawling all over their mom, would be unable to receive the attention and care they needed during her recovery.

Isolated and unsupported, mom had no one safe in her life to entrust her girls to. She also knew that if she were unable to find a safe place for her girls before surgery, she would have to place them in foster care. Fortunately, before that happened, a local church referred mom to Safe Families for Children Alaska, a new program offered through the nonprofit Beacon Hill.

Arrangements were made for the girls to stay with a certified volunteer host family whose children were close to the same age and attend the same school as the girls do. During her recovery, mom was able to video chat and talk on the phone with her children frequently.

The host family worked tirelessly to make the girls feel comfortable and at home, emphasizing the fact that these “extended sleepovers” were giving their mom time to recover and as soon as she was all healed and ready to go, they would be on their way back home.

During the placement, the host family connected mom with a support system though their mutual school connections and a local church. By the time the placement ended with Safe Families for Children, mom felt connected and cared for, and understood that she now has a network of people to call if anything like this were to happen again.

Thanks to Alaska Children’s Trust’s support of Beacon Hill and Safe Families for Children Alaska in 2016, these two young children and 19 others have avoided the trauma of unnecessarily entering the foster care system. Beacon Hill’s board and staff members are unbelievably grateful for the lifelong impact Alaska Children’s Trust has had on Alaska’s vulnerable families in 2016.

Find more stories like this in the Alaska Children’s Trust 2016 community report – coming soon!

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Putting the Giving into Thanksgiving

By Trevor Storrs, Executive Director, Alaska Children’s Trust

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner and it is a great time to start engaging children in the act of giving back. Here are some easy ways to involve your children in the true spirit of the holidays:

  1. Donate Money. When individuals are ringing the Salvation Army’s bell or collecting funds to purchase turkeys for families in need, have your child take a dollar from their own money and donate it. It is more powerful when the child uses his or her own money versus yours. Or volunteer to work a kettle and your child can ring the bell and accept donations.
  1. Toys-for-Tots. One of the fun activities that many kids do to get ready for Christmas is write their letter to Santa letting him know what toys they want this year. Before the letter is mailed off, have your child select a gift from their list that they want to go to a child in need. Then go out with your child to select the toy and deliver it to a toy collection site.
  1. Adopt-a-Family. Many organizations have a list of families who cannot afford a holiday meal. Have your child help with developing the menu, shopping for the items, contributing some of the money, and delivering the package.
  1. Distribute Food. Many local churches and organizations host events where they distribute food to hungry families for the holidays. This is a great opportunity to contribute food and volunteer at the event.
  1. Be a Good Neighbor. The opportunities to do this are endless. Brainstorm some ideas with your child about how to show kindness to your neighbors (especially the elderly). Ideas include baking cookies as a family and delivering them to neighbors, or shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway.trevor-polo-shirt-small

Have some other ideas to share, or want to tell us about your family’s experience with holiday giving? Connect with us on Facebook!

Trevor Storrs is the executive director of Alaska Children’s Trust.