Two bettendorf moms are coming together to support foster families this holiday season.
The Fostering Hope in Scott County Facebook group was created to support local foster families by sharing advice and creating an online community. Together, co-founders and foster moms Alyssa Valdez-Quinlan and Glenda Tritten have 13 children. Their support group grew into a place where families can find resources.
The two women saw a unique need for emergency placement support, when children are removed from their homes on short notice, and wanted to offer help beyond the screen to families.
“Oftentimes, you have no idea what age child is coming into your home, what gender they are going to be, and usually when you get a phone call those kids are at your doorstep in a couple hour timeframe,” Trettin said.
Their emergency placement bags are filled with the necessities like clothes and toiletries, along with fun items like toys to help the families and the kids adjust.
“One of the things we strive to do in our group is to give those kids some pride back. To give those kids something that is theirs back,” Valdez-Quinlan said.
Bre Harrington and Mary Aguilar are members of the group who have both receieved emergency placement bags from Fostering Hope in Scott County. They said the support goes beyond the bags.
“Being a single foster parent, it means everything to have someone else to talk to,” Harrington said.
Having others to lean is especially helpful when their foster kids are having a hard time
“[Sometimes], they just want their mom and dad and you have to figure out a way to try and explain to them, ‘It’s okay, you’re safe’,” Aguilar said. “Having people there that go through the same things you do is really helpful.”
The group usually gathers in person for the holidays. Due to COVID-19, they decided to host the Toys for Fosters gift drive to keep kids safe and still spread cheer.
“There’s a lot of negativity going around. [Let’s] add some positivity and do something together to create joy for those in our community that need it the most, and those are our foster kids,” Valdez-Quinlan said.
Foster families can sign up to receive a gift for Christmas until November 30. The group is currently looking for more individuals to sponsor a foster child this year.
What keeps these moms going is knowing they can make a positive impact on the lives of kids in need.
“Every kid deserves to feel safe and loved, even if it’s just for a moment at your house,” Trettin said.
For Harrington, fostering is about provided kids with a sense of security.
“That’s what keeps me going is just looking at their eyes and knowing that they’re safe, happy and healthy,” Harrington said.
There are currently about 50 families signed up to receive gifts this year. To learn more about the toy drive, visit the event page here. To donate to the group’s GoFundMe campaign, click the link here.