Tax credit donations make teenage birthday dreams a reality

Thanks to tax credit donations — and the generosity of those who support our organization — Arizona Helping Hands is now able to expand its services to even more children living in foster care.

Dan Shufelt (Arizona Helping Hands)When Arizona Helping Hands was recognized recently by the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce as its Sterling Award Nonprofit Honoree for 2016, Salt River Project’s media department prepared a video about the organization.

In the video, I was shown saying, “I’d love to be able to extend our Birthday Dreams for Foster Kids program to teenagers to be able to celebrate their special day and to promote their self-esteem.”

Now, with donations through the Arizona State Foster Tax Credit program, Arizona Helping Hands is proud to announce that this dream will become a reality.
Our Birthday Dreams program has been providing personalized, hand-decorated gift packages to children through age 12 since its inception in 2015. We are so excited to now include teenagers in the program.

Typical packages for the teens will include a piece of luggage packed with such items as wallets, gift cards, soccer balls and more. The teen packages will also be wrapped with care by volunteers and include a personalized birthday card with a message such as “You are special,” “Enjoy your day” and “Wishes of Love sent your way.”

Any child in the Department of Child Safety system can receive a gift package. Applications on our website, www.azhelpinghands.org, allow for special requests that are filled if available – even including bicycles if in stock at the AHH warehouse (over 150 new bikes have been donated to AHH in 2017).

Foster families and DCS caseworkers can apply for the program two to four weeks prior to the child’s birthday to allow AHH to handle the request.

In 2016 we filled Birthday Dreams for 920 children through age 12. With this new funding from community supporters, we are now able to grow the program and expand through a child’s 18th birthday.  We expect to make birthdays a truly special day for 2,000-plus children in foster care in 2017.

Arizona taxpayers make this program, and all of AHH’s programs, possible through donating via the tax credit program. Taxpayers can contribute up to $1,000 per calendar year ($500 for a single taxpayer) and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against their Arizona State tax return.

It’s a way to use your tax dollars to brighten the lives of children in foster care who have experienced trauma and disruption. A way to make Birthday Dreams a reality for the 17,000-plus boys and girls in foster care in Arizona.

AHH also looks to area businesses, churches and clubs to support the program through collection drives for age-appropriate gifts and books, and volunteers are always needed to assemble the gifts. Contact dreamcatcher@azhelpinghands.org to learn more information, and make your tax credit contribution at www.azfostertaxcredit.org.

Arizona Helping Hands is the largest provider of items including beds, cribs, clothing, diapers, personalized care packages, home safety equipment and more to Arizona’s foster care population.

It’s mission is to brighten the lives of children and to ease the burden of families in foster care, and now to fill teenage birthday dreams!

Editor’s note: Mr. Shufelt is president and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands.

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