This Valentine’s, foster kids show their love for Trenton, NJ
TRENTON — A New Jersey nonprofit that helps grant the wishes of children in foster care is partnering with the Trenton Housing Authority to host a Valentine’s Day party for local kids on Friday, February 10.
What is One Simple Wish?
In 2006, foster and adoptive mom, Danielle Gletow and her husband became foster parents to a little girl. She said she didn’t know much about the process but she quickly found out that every year half a million children are moving through foster care.
These kids go without the basic childhood experiences that most children enjoy like missed birthday parties, not participating in school sports, or not being able to pick out a prom gown.
“When you’re in a more stable family setting, those things present themselves more naturally,” Gletow said.
She also wanted the public to be aware of these needs and find a way to have them help.
So, she built One Simple Wish while she was on maternity leave.
It is a wish-granting platform that anybody can go onto any time of day and read through the wishes that were made on behalf of children and young adults who have experienced foster care or childhood crisis and trauma, Gletow said.
One Simple Wish works with families that are system involved, reunified families, and kinship families. They try to encourage the public to do what they can to offer a little love, hope, and joy to a child who could use a reminder of how much they are loved, she said.
The wishes are unique and range anywhere from $10 to $500. Some wishes include laptops, gaming devices, phones, tablets, brand-name shoes, and household items for kids who are aging out of the foster care system and will be out on their own for the first time.
Some children ask for experiences like movie tickets, trips to zoos, and amusement parks. Others simply want gift cards so they can go shopping and pick out what they want. One little boy asked for a $25 McDonald’s gift card so he can buy his favorite snacks.
There are currently 256 wishes totaling $51,715 waiting to be granted.
“Every single wish that hits the site gets granted,” Gletow said.
One Simple Wish is a resource for kids and families impacted by foster care or system involvement. Any type of childhood crisis, they are a resource to them, she explained. One Simple Wish is available 365 days a year and the organization serves roughly 30,000 individuals every year.
What is the Valentine’s party all about?
One Simple Wish has partnered with Trenton Housing Authority to host a Valentine’s dance for children from the Authority’s after-school program and for those living in the city’s subsidized housing.
Gletow said all the kids, parents, and volunteers from the after-school program are invited.
“They will be dressed up. There’s going to be a DJ playing music. We’ve got dinner coming. We have lots of desserts, snacks, and candy. They’re all getting a wish come true,” Gletow said.
In addition to all that, the children will be writing love letters to the city of Trenton.
Why are they writing love letters?
“The City of Trenton faces a lot of hardships. There is a high degree of poverty. There is a lot of crime. So, for kids growing up in an environment like that, it’s important that we also talk about hope and that we also talk about love. Our idea was let’s talk about what we love most about this city that we live in,” Gletow said.
Each child will write a love letter to the New Jersey capital and share with the world what they love most about Trenton.
What will they do with the letters?
These Valentine's letters will be displayed at Trenton City Hall for people to read, Gletow explained.
Mayor Reed Gusciora will be on hand from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on February 14 and talk to the kids who made the love letters, she said. He will also tell them why he loves the city of Trenton.
“We feel like this will be a very beautiful and hopeful moment for the youth in our city who need to see and look for the good and who need to show us the good,” Gletow said.
It is very important to encourage pride in a hometown and uplift a community, she added. When people are faced with a lot of challenges and things look grim, it’s so important that we remind young people that there is hope and that they are part of that hope.
One of the biggest things that they can do is express goodness.
“I think this a beautiful opportunity for these kids to tell us what’s so wonderful about their city, what they love,” Gletow said.
It is important that everywhere people go, they look for the good because it is there, she said. If people focus more on that, they will become more hopeful, and with hope, often comes a lot of action.
“We also thought it would be really cute to hear directly from kids because sometimes as adults we think we know everything and we think we know the solutions, and oftentimes it’s the kids who point us in the right direction,” she said.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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