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TAES Teams with Blair Hope for Families to Help Kids in Need

The Pajama Drive deadline is December 9

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Last year the Tyrone Area Elementary School collected 290 pairs of pajamas that were donated to Blair Hope for Families and given to local children in need.

This year the Elementary school hopes to collect over 300 pajamas and books before December 9.

According to Sara Jackson, the Reading Specialist at Tyrone Area Elementary School, this goal may be more difficult to pass, but with the help of Tyrone Hospital employees, they hope to make it happen.   

All the pajamas go to help kids in foster programs right here in Blair County.

Each year, approximately 100 children enter the foster care program in Blair County. Children enter foster care due to many varied and often tragic situations, such as crime, neglect, death of parents or caregivers or other serious difficulties in the family.  Despite the best efforts of the foster families and county government officials, it can be difficult to provide for all the needs of foster children.

This is where Blair Hope for Families, a community non-profit organization based in northern Blair County steps in.

“I’ve had involvement with foster children through the school and I had a friend that had two foster children,” said Tyrone High School nurse Julie Patton, “The children arrive with nothing. It’s a crazy time for foster parents trying to get basic needs for the children such as mattresses and toiletries. Blair Hope helps families get the basic needs for these children.”

It’s a wonderful thing to open your home and your heart to a child living through a situation that will separate them from their family”

— Blair Hope for Families co-founder Doug Sloey

Blair Hope for Families was founded by Tyrone High School Alumni Doug Sloey and his wife Connie. The idea for the organization was born about six years ago when the Sloeys added to their family through adoption.

The difficulty of bringing their daughter into their home inspired them to do something to help foster children in central Pennsylvania. The goal of their organization to provide a better living and family experience for foster children. They raise money from individuals, corporations, and organizations to provide basic needs to local children in need.

“It’s a wonderful thing to open your home and your heart to a child living through a situation that will separate them from their family,” said Sloey. “It’s great that the state helps to offset the additional costs associated with hosting a child.   Unfortunately, as any parent can attest, the expenses and investment of children doesn’t stop at food, clothing, and lodging.  However, anything needed or wanted by the child that are outside of those three categories must be provided by the foster family out of their own pockets.”

Since its inception, Blair Hope for Families has provided items such as back to school supplies, school pictures, Christmas, birthday and other holiday gifts, prom dresses, graduation announcements, auto maintenance, insurance, money for kids to participate in athletics, and many other needs.

According to Sloey, every dollar that is donated to Blair Hope is directly used for the children. The board of directors is all volunteer. The Sloeys run the organization from their home, using their dining room as the “main office” for Blair Hope.

In addition to donating pajamas this Christmas, the public can also help by donating money or items for Blair Hope’s “New Placement Packs.”

Blair Hope provides each child that enters the foster care system in Blair County with basic items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bath towels, and other items. Those wishing to help could put on a collection drive event or could personally donate these items for this cause.

When a child enters the foster care system they often do not have basics such as these so they are given what Blair Hope calls a “New Placement Pack” of necessities. All donations are tax deductible.

The holidays are always a time of need for foster children, so Connie and Doug collect Christmas lists for foster children from infants to the age of 18.

Due to confidentiality, they do not come in contact with the foster children nor see their faces, but they feel like they know the children. Blair Hope was able to get around $100 dollars in gifts for every child from their wish list and a pass to Lakemont Park to see the lights on the lake for each foster family.

When children “age out” of foster care at the age of 18, they often do not have the necessities for life. According to statistics, 40% of foster children that age out end up homeless while 60% of the males that age out are convicted for crimes by the age of 24.

To combat this, Blair Hope Child Youth Services partners with Blair Hope to target this issue and prepare foster kids for life on their own.

Both the Tyrone and Bellwood school districts have been active in helping Blair Hope.

In December 2015, Tyrone Area Elementary School sponsored a successful donation drive for pajamas to give to children in need. Tyrone collected 290 pairs of pajamas that were donated to Blair Hope for Families.

“I’m very proud of all of our students and staff here who really come together during the holidays to make sure other kids can have some of the things they need.  It’s exciting as well knowing so many other people around the community wanted to help without any hesitations,” said Jackson.

The students seem very excited to be giving pajamas. I especially enjoy listening to students as they pass by the collection boxes and they start talking about how many they think are in the box.”

— Sara Jackson, Reading Specialist at Tyrone Area Elementary School

Bellwood High School assisted Blair Hope by collecting donations during their opening basketball game against Tyrone on December 2015.

Anyone who would like to help this important organization is encouraged to get in contact with them through their Facebook Page.

“Being separated from parents, regardless of issue or concern, is a very traumatic and life changing experience. Why enhance the trauma by having children also miss out on events and experiences that the typical childhood would include and the typical family would appreciate?” said Sloey.

For the collect this year, the boxes are placed in the elementary lobby and hospital lobby, and donations can be made at any time of day. Even though the drive doesn’t start until December 5th, there are 42 pairs of pajamas and 10 books already donated; and this number will only go up. 

The drive ends December 9th, so don’t forget to bring in your pj’s and continue with the Christmas spirit of giving!

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The voice of the Tyrone Area High School
TAES Teams with Blair Hope for Families to Help Kids in Need