ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN C & G NEWSPAPERS – APRIL 23, 2014
BY: SARAH WOJCIK
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Friends of Foster Kids, a Shelby-based nonprofit group, works year-round to provide items to foster children in southeast Michigan.
Since December, four local Cadette Girl Scouts endeavored to create a race and family fun day at River Bends Park May 3 to benefit the Friends of Foster Kids. The Scouts started the initiative to earn the Silver Award, the second-highest award in Girl Scouts.
Meghan Lytle, Emma Kohler-Lewis, Allison Creek and Kayla Colussi put in more than 200 hours to plan and organize the event.
The 5k run/walk will take place at 8 a.m., and the family-fun event will take place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and include carnival games, police finger printing, police and fire demonstrations, a princess meet-and-greet, music, face painting, and more.
The girls also will be collecting donations of pajamas, socks, underwear, winter clothing, toiletries, twin sheets, blankets, pillows and grants for Friends of Foster Kids.
For the past three years, Girl Scouts leader Sue Lytle said she and her troop have wrapped Christmas presents and sponsored foster children through the organization.
“I love the fact that it’s children helping children. There’s a certain symmetry to it that’s beautiful,” said Friends of Foster Kids Director Theresa Toia. “This was a huge undertaking for these ladies, and I’m impressed with everything they’ve done thus far.”
Toia said her organization assists upwards of 900 children annually who live in temporary homes or foster care after being removed from situations of abuse and neglect.
“I can’t even believe what these children have had to endure,” Toia said. “After you meet one child that has received a gift or help in some form, you realize the huge impact it has on these children to know they’re not alone and not forgotten, and there are people that do care out there.”
Toia said the organization was born when her daughter, a foster care caseworker, said that her whole caseload of children did not receive Christmas presents for the second year in a row during the recession.
Through word of mouth, hundreds of volunteers donated time and items to create specifically tailored Christmas wish lists to more children each year. Now, the organization supplies children with items year-round.
With children “aging out” of the foster care system, a large portion of the work the organization does also is directed at supplementing children’s apartments and dorm rooms.
“I feel like we’re slowly changing how people live,” Kohler-Lewis said. “To know that we’re helping people (is my favorite part). We’re not just doing it for ourselves.”
To register for the race, visit www.active.com and search “Friends of Foster Kids 5K Angels Run.” River Bends Park is located at 5700 22 Mile Road.