Laptops of Love!
Are you looking for a way to help kids that will fill you with the spirit of Christmas? Yes, you are.
Today Rep. Les Gara and the foster care group, Facing Foster Care In Alaska (FFCA), are launching the third annual Laptops for Foster Youth Holiday Drive. Over the past two years this drive has resulted in approximately 200 matches for youth in Alaska! “Laptops are crucial to helping youth improve their chances of success in school, and establishing normalcy in very disrupted lives of youth who often have very few material possessions,” said Gara, a former foster youth whose father was killed when he was 6 years old.
“Youth use laptops for school, to transport pictures of their families and friends, and to lead a life that more closely resembles those of their peers outside of foster care,” said Amanda Metivier, who has worked closely with Gara’s office as a partner in this effort.
“We hope the holiday spirit will cause generous Alaskans to keep this success growing into a third year,” said Metivier. Gara’s office started this effort with foster youth advocate Amanda Metivier, Statewide Coordinator of FFCA, two years ago.
While many of us are spending time with our families, celebrating traditions, and enjoying the festivities, foster youth are faced with the bitter reminder that they are separated from their families during the holidays. Foster youth are highly mobile, some changing placements dozens of times while in care and often in the middle of the school term. As difficult as transitions are, having a portable laptop helps with school stability and helps youth stay in contact with relatives and friends. Laptops, unlike desktops, are portable, which is unfortunately important.
“Some youth end up having over 20 and 30 foster home placements,” explained Metivier.
Collaboration between Rep. Gara and the non-profit FFCA has yielded approximately 200 computers that have been matched with youth over the past two years, roughly tripling the number of matches since last year. “Youth who have been matched with a laptop are performing better in school, and have a link to their family and friends as they make multiple transitions,” said Metivier. Metivier is also a foster care alumnus, and has worked with the state and Rep. Gara’s office to help improve Alaska’s foster care system.
“My laptop has helped immensely during my first semester of college. I use it to complete schoolwork, and to stay in touch with my family and friends. I would have really struggled without a laptop,” said Sarah Redmon about the laptop she received through the program.
So, how can you help?
If you have a late model or new laptop you want to donate, make sure it:
1. is not more than four years old;
2. has a word processing program;
3. has internet capability; and,
4. works VERY well (remember, if it’s too slow for you, it won’t work for a foster youth!)
Please call Rep. Gara’s office at (907) 269-0106. There are also other ways to help if you have time, but no computer to donate.
If you want to mentor a youth leaving foster care, call FFCA Statewide Coordinator Amanda Metivier at (907) 230-8237 to learn more.
Want to be a foster parent? There’s a dire shortage: call the Office of Children’s Services at (800) 478-7307 to find out how to become one.
Thanks, Mudflatters. In these trying times, there really is something you can do that will make you feel good, and make a real difference to someone who is struggling to get a good education.