“Christmas In March”
Local Nonprofits are at it, again!
Prom Perks for Foster Teens – Special Discounts & Assistance
This year, Operation Christmas Smile is hosting their 1st Annual Spring Dream Drive. Because of the many efforts to help disadvantaged children that already exist, they decided to team up with “The Cinderella Affair,” an all-volunteer project supported by East Valley Women’s League, Tempe Community Council, and the City of Tempe. Their program was founded in 2002 to assist girls by collecting and distributing new and gently-used formalwear. The Cinderella Affair has also provided dresses for exchange students from the Tempe Sister Cities program, the clients of the Hacienda de Los Angeles, and young ladies participating in the Miss CHAMPION Pageant.
“Because we also share a similar mission for this drive, which is ‘to make attending the prom affordable for all high school seniors in Arizona, as well as make it an event in their lives to remember,’ we reached out to “The Cinderella Affair” organizers and made a decision to join their event,” shared Juanita Williams-Whitehead. Operation Christmas Smile, a local nonprofit which is managed by The Caring Big Foundation, founded also by Williams-Whitehead, was established with one purpose in mind and that is to work collaboratively with other community organizations, nonprofits, and local businesses to help underprivileged children and youth, more particularly those in the foster care system.
Seeing that “The Cinderella Affair” already has donation boxes in schools, businesses, and churches across Phoenix and its surrounding cities, they decided to reach out further and bring more exposure to “The Cinderella Affair” to cities in the valley, but yet still within driving distance to Tempe, those being Maricopa and Casa Grande. “A vast majority of valley residents are also commuters to the central Phoenix area, where employment opportunities are greater; however, most of their children and teens attend the local high schools. With this being the case and the other factor of including foster group homes and care providers in these valley areas, we felt the need to reach out, beyond to a few cities that still fall within the Phoenix metropolitan area. And so, we chose Maricopa and Casa Grande,” commented Williams-Whitehead.
Operation Christmas Smile is not operating alone. They have also partnered with two Phoenix-based nonprofit organizations, Arizona Friends for Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF), Opportunity, Community & Justice for Kids (OCJ Kids), and a faith-based organization and foster initiative program, Living Word Ahwatukee and LW Foster Initiative, in attempts to share news of “The Cinderella Affair” with foster families, group homes, and care providers across the valley. In addition to sharing news of this event, Operation Christmas Smile, has negotiated special discounts with local supporting businesses that will offer their services to foster teens (in their senior year of high school) in efforts to assist them in offsetting the costs to attend their prom, a once-in-a-lifetime event. “We just want to show them that someone cares. At this age, they feel that no one really cares. And this is our way of showing them that someone does care,” explained Jeff Zubeck, pastor of Living Word Ahwatukee, director of LW Foster Initiative, and active member of “Connecting to Serve” an Ahwatukee-based community group whose mission is ‘to knit together community leaders to collaborate best practices and share resources in efforts to identify community assets, create solutions for our community challenges, and make our communities more secure and vibrant.’
Kris Jacober, executive director of Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF), a local nonprofit whose mission is promoting the self-esteem and enriching the lives of children in foster care in Arizona by funding activities, education and other needs that provide them with quality experiences while they live through very difficult circumstances, said that the organization can consider funding prom expenses (clothing, shoes, tickets, etc.) up to $300 per student in foster care (in their senior year of high school). AFFCF has been the only organization in the State, since 1983, that provides these ‘something extras’ for children in foster care. Over the past 30 years, they have awarded more than $3,500,000 to more than 23,000 children in foster care in Arizona without the assistance of State or government funding. “We are committed to our mission of providing awards for activities and items for children in foster care that are not funded in any other way. We are pleased to help young men and women attend their high school prom, and have high school memories they will take with them for the rest of their lives.”
To apply, visit affcf.org and click on “Awards” and “Award Application.” Prom expenses will not be reimbursed if items are purchased before the application is reviewed and approved by AFFCF.
For information about “The Cinderella Affair” and local drop-off sites – www.CinderellaAffair.org.
To contact Operation Christmas Smile, visit www.OperationChristmasSmile.org.
Special Thanks to our local supporting business:
Salon 7000 (975 E. Elliot Rd, Ste. 3, Tempe, AZ 85284)
Doria Me’Chelle Salon & Spa (4902 E. Warner Rd, Ste. 12, Phoenix, AZ 85044)
Top 5 Hair Dzign Barbershop – Robert Everson (7420 S. Rural Rd, Ste. B7, Tempe, AZ 85283)
Balaros Hair Salon (2747 W. Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282)
Desiree Marchant with Mary Kay Consultants (Phoenix Metro area)
Parliament Cab (Serving the Central and South Phoenix area, 480.228-8378)
Saba’s Limo Company (Serving the North Phoenix area, 480.340-0055)
Sunny Sayarath @ K’Bella Salon & Day Spa (20800 N John Wayne Pkwy, Maricopa, AZ 85139)
La Vida Hair Boutique with Gregory (Stagestop Building, Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy, 85138)
Service Before Self, a student club @ Maricopa High School, founded by Dajonna Swaing
South Valley drop-off locations:
The Duke at Rancho El Dorado (42660 Rancho El Dorado Pkwy., Maricopa, AZ 85138)
Yogurt Jungle – Maricopa (21101 N. John Wayne Pkwy., Suite E-105, Maricopa, AZ 85139)
Copa Craze (21116 N. John Wayne Pkwy, Maricopa, AZ 85138)