Warming the Hearts of Delaware Children in Foster Care
May is National Foster Care Month. It is a time to recognize foster parents, volunteers, policymakers, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes. Here at Operation Warm, we would like to recognize the Welfare Foundation, Stephen & Mary Birch Foundation, The Laffey-McHugh Foundation, Crestlea Foundation, and DuPont for providing significant resources in support of this program.
For the past four years, The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) has partnered with Operation Warm to bring warmth to foster children in Delaware. GACEC is the federally mandated state advisory panel for the Delaware Department of Education for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They work to ensure that the needs of students with exceptionalities are being met and that they are receiving proper supports. Operation Warm has also partnered with the Delaware Basic Needs Closet.
Ten years ago, GACEC Executive Director, Wendy Strauss, learned about the number of children in Delaware who were homeless, under-housed, or in foster care. Further, she learned that a large percentage of these children had disabilities. Strauss began a campaign to bring warmth and compassion to these children. The project, now known as Heart 2 Heart Hugs, serves over 2,500 children and young adults annually.
The Impact of a Brand New Coat on a Foster Child
“While a new coat may not seem like much for many of us,” Strauss explained, “to a child who is homeless or in foster care, who may never have owned a new coat, it can mean the world. Over the years GACEC has heard from countless foster care case workers, homeless liaisons, and even students about the impact that being offered a new coat has had. The new coat offers not only warmth but comfort, security and a sense of belonging.”
At a kickoff coat giving event in Dover, Del. one middle school aged girl asked if she could stand up and speak to volunteers and participants. She wanted to thank everyone for putting on the event because it meant so much to her and “her sisters.”
Later, it was discovered that the sisters this young girl was referring to were other girls in her foster home, not biological sisters. Sybil Brown, from GACEC, explained, “Many foster children are moved around with little certainty of their future. They wear second-hand clothing that is often ill-fitting. A brand new coat, that still had the tag on it, is an amazing gift.”
At Operation Warm, our mission is to bring warmth, confidence, and hope to children in need. Ready to join us?
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