Clothes, backpacks, school supplies—most children take these things for granted. Foster children don’t always have that luxury. The non-profit organization Treehouse tries to fill the gaps in the lives of foster children, whether the children’s needs are as simple as a lack of school supplies or as complex as needing advocates when they’re struggling in school or their foster home. Group Health Credit Union is raising funds to help provide foster children in King County with the things they need…and some of the things they want.
Foster children face enormous challenges: according to Treehouse’s website, 37% of foster kids drop out of high school, compared to only 16% of the general population. After they “age out” of the system at 18, they’re on their own—and as many as 40-50% become homeless within 18 months. Foster kids are far less likely to attend college, far more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and/or end up in the juvenile justice system, and can be between 1-3 years behind their peers in learning readiness.
That’s why Treehouse is such a vital organization. Treehouse staff are able to intervene as advocates and tutors when foster kids are at risk of dropping out or being suspended from school. The organization provides money for foster kids to attend summer camp or play a school sport. Treehouse’s Wearhouse allows kids to “shop” for clothing, coats, shoes, backpacks and more to supplement the $300 annual allowance that the state provides to clothe foster children. These are rare opportunities for kids in extraordinary circumstances to experience life—at least for a time—as every other “normal” kid.
Washington State supplies only 60% of the funds needed to cover “basic care” costs. If you’d like to help Treehouse and GHCU fill that 40% gap, please drop by any of our branches between now and the end of the year. You can also call and make a donation over the phone at 206-298-9394. We thank you for your generosity.
Rainier Valley Food Bank
Sometime in the dark hours between Tuesday, November 17 and Wednesday the 18th, burglars broke in to the Rainier Valley Food Bank and stole between $1,500 and $2,000 worth of food. The food—enough to feed 5000 people, by their estimate— had been intended for families in need in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, and the food bank was expecting over 450 families to arrive on Saturday to pick up supplies for their Thanksgiving meals. Suddenly there was a lot less to give.
GHCU heard about the robbery via the social media site Twitter on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, GHCU staff were unloading two huge, overflowing shopping carts’ worth of canned fruits and vegetables, cans of soup and tuna fish and jars of peanut butter, plus boxes of macaroni and cheese, snack bars and other foods to restock the food bank’s empty shelves.
Thanks to an article in the Seattle Times and overwhelming “buzz” on Twitter and other social media sites, other local businesses and individuals quickly joined in with contributions, and by Friday morning, the food bank was completely replenished and then some. By Monday, November 23, the food bank had taken in over $100,000 in cash and food donations.
Food banks nationwide are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of individuals and families at risk of hunger. If you’re interested in making a donation to Rainier Valley Food Bank, you can donate online or in person at their warehouse at 4205 Rainier Avenue South in Seattle. If you live outside Seattle and would like to donate to a food bank in your area, you can find a local facility by typing in your zip code at FeedingAmerica.org.
GHCU wishes everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!