Every year thousands of teenagers go through foster care systems — often bouncing around from home to home in search of stability and someone who cares.
One Central Florida woman is doing everything she can to bring them that love they deserve.
What You Need To Know
- Experts say that thousands of children go through foster care in Florida every year
- Central Florida resident Alison Spalding said she does what she can to add something special to their lives while in the system
- To do that, Spalding started Fostering Kindness, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes needed items to foster children
“So we're going to do a new pillow,” Spalding said while building one of several comfort packs she assembles for teens.
This is her natural element — she's packing bags in a home office crafted specifically to create happiness.
"Pencil Sharpeners, these are really awesome for the comfort packs,” she said.
In January 2021, Spalding started the mission that would change her life forever.
Working closely with the Guardian Ad Litem office in Volusia County, she was able to secure wishlists from the teens living in foster care.
Spalding then turns those lists into special gifts for the children.
"I'm not going to be able to fix your problems," she said. "I can't give you a great home, but I might be able to give you some good memories, and just feel like somebody cared and thought about you."
Her passion to help is not something new — Spalding used to be a social worker and saw firsthand the kinds of challenges foster children go through.
"So there's cards, a little stress ball, footballs — I mean, there's everything that you could ever expect to get at a normal birthday party,” Spalding said as she prepared for her weekly donation drop-off.
It's not just birthday gifts she's collecting for these teens, it's also essential items like soap and feminine hygiene kits.
Every donation that comes in goes completely back to those who need it.
"I love gift delivery days, they are my favorite," Spalding said.
Spalding has seen her efforts inspire people around her: Anytime she creates a post on Facebook, they reach out and ask how they can help.
Some have even made large donations or bought the entire Amazon wishlist on her page.
“I try to do a little bit of everything, because you never know what kids are going to be into,” Spalding said.
Just in the Daytona Beach area, there are 850 children living in foster care that the Volusia Guardian Ad Litem office serves. Officials say every contribution helps, especially donations for the older children.
Right now, Spalding works a full-time job and does her work for Fostering Kindness in her off-time.
She said that has meant plenty of late nights putting together care packs and gift bags. But she said she loves the work and it always comes together.
"Yeah, I don't like saying no,” Spalding said.
She said she hopes one day to turn Fostering Kindness into a full-time movement to give back.