Arizona Helping Hands launches mobile unit to assist foster children and families throughout state

Arizona Helping Hands provides birthday gifts to foster children across the state. The gifts can include bikes, clothes, toys, books and other goodies. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

Arizona Helping Hands’ warehouse in Phoenix is a place where foster families, kinship families and foster children can receive essentials that help children transition into their new homes. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

Arizona Helping Hands’ new mobile unit will help the nonprofit reach foster children throughout the state. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

Sponsors, employees, volunteers and other community leaders gather on Thursday, July 13, 2023, to celebrate the opening of a mobile unit that will serve Arizona foster children and families. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

Bins full of school supplies and other everyday items for foster children fill Arizona Helping Hand’s warehouse. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

School supplies and other essentials are among the items Arizona Helping Hands provides to foster children. (Photo by Evelin Ruelas/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Arizona Helping Hands kicked off its back-to-school season Thursday by opening a mobile unit that will distribute backpacks to foster children and provide services to foster families throughout the state.

“We want all kids in Arizona to win,” said Maureen Noe, CEO and president of Arizona Helping Hands. “Our philosophy is that these kids deserve the best, and our shelves will always reflect that – as they will only be stocked with new items for them.”

The new mobile unit delivery program will allow Helping Hands to provide basic needs for foster kids throughout Arizona. More than 2,700 foster children were served in 2022, and the organization expects to help more this year as they are averaging assistance for 70 to 80 children each week.

Tanya Abdellatif, program administrator in the Office of Licensing and Regulation for the Arizona Department of Child Safety, said the mobile unit is a great opportunity to serve “our most needed community, as many people drive hours to come to Arizona Helping Hands. Now they won’t have to do that.”

The Phoenix nonprofit plans to send the mobile unit to deliver essentials to foster families in smaller and rural cities, including Flagstaff, Tuba City, Prescott, Kingman, Window Rock, Show Low, Tucson, Casa Grande, Globe, Mesa, Yuma and Buckeye, according to a news release.

Helping Hands helps foster children with basics such as beds, clothing, school supplies, diapers, holiday gifts and birthday gifts. It also helps kinship families and foster families with required licensing safety items such as fire hydrants, smoke detectors and other items needed to prepare a home for inspection to host a foster child.

Evelin Ruelas eh-beh-leen roo-eh-las
News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Evelin Ruelas expects to graduate in August 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.