I’ve partnered with Mattress Firm as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network to bring you information on a program I support.
Did you know there are more than 415,000 children in the foster care system on any given day in the U.S.? Did you also know that children available for adoption spend an average of nearly two years waiting to be adopted? It also costs an average of $245,340 to raise a foster child up until they turn 17.
Foster care is something very near and dear to my heart. Although I don’t remember it, I was in foster care for eight months while waiting to be adopted. I guess you could say I was one of the lucky ones who moved out of the system quickly, given that the average age of a foster child is nine years old.
Let me tell you a funny story…
My senior year of high school, through a series of conversations my then boyfriend’s mom and my mom had with each other, they found out his aunt and uncle were my foster parents. (Did you follow that?) How unreal is that?!
His parents set up a dinner so we could all meet and it was one of those surreal moments for all of us. We met, they hugged me about a kazillion times, they cried and they showed me pictures of me as a baby. I think what surprised me more than this crazy situation of actually getting to meet my foster parents and the fact they were related to someone I was dating, was the love they felt for me.
As a young 17 year old, I didn’t quite understand it at the time. But as I grew older and watched friends and families foster, I saw up close and personal how attached they get and how much love they had for these kids who were only with them for a short time.
Because of my history and personal connection with foster care and adoption I often felt a little twinge of guilt, I guess you could say, for not fostering or adopting a child ourselves. But I knew that wasn’t my calling.
So what can I do?
I can give of my resources, whether that be time or money.
Mattress Firm knows that not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child.
How You Can Help
Here’s how you can help and get your kids involved.
From May 2nd – June 26th, Mattress Firm is hosting a clothing drive to collect new clothing items for foster kids. The clothing items will be donated to local foster care nonprofit partners and distributed to foster children and foster families in need. Their goal is to provide foster kids with shoes, clothing, pajamas and school supplies needed as they transition into a new home.
I brought my 12 year old along to help me shop for and donate some clothes to our local Mattress Firm store. To make it more personal for him, we shopped for a boy around his age and a little younger. It was the perfect moment to help him learn why we give and to share with him about the foster care system. He knows my story and it gave me a chance to delve a little deeper into what kinds of things foster kids need, both physically and emotionally.
I told him how foster kids often arrive to a home with only the clothes on their back. His reaction was “I bet these new clothes will make them happy”. Not only that, but it gives them some much needed confidence.
Mattress Firm Kid Heroes
How would you like to get your kids involved?
Along with their Foster Kid program, Mattress Firm is also hosting a fun and important social media contest called Kid Heroes. Mattress Firm is asking parents or friends of a child who makes a clothing or monetary donation to their local Mattress Firm store, to submit a photo and caption of their child making an impact on foster children.
Here are some details of the contest:
- Take a photo of your child putting a pair of clothes in the donation barrels or something else like raising money selling baked goods
- Post the picture on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Donate4FosterKids and caption it describing how the child is supporting the cause and how they aspire to make a difference in the local community
- Or submit a photo here: www.MattressFirm.com/KidHeroes
- Entries are accepted beginning Monday, May 2 at 9 a.m. CST through Sunday, May 22 at 11:59 p.m. CST
- You can see all of the photo submissions in a gallery, where voting will take place for a chance to win a grand prize
- Finalists, and contest winner, will be determined by the most votes received from May 23 through May 29
- Winner will be announced May 30, 2016
- The grand prize is a $500 Toys “R” Us gift card and a $5,000 donation to the local Mattress Firm Foster Kids nonprofit partner of the winner’s choice
Click here for all of the contest info.
I hope you’ll consider donating to your local Mattress Firm!