Together We Rise is an organization dedicated to helping kids navigate through the often-difficult process of being a part of the foster care system. The non-profit organization collaborates with local communities and organizations across the country to bring resources to foster care youth and towards educating the general public about issues surrounding the foster care system. The organization was founded in 2008 and is lead by a group of young adults, some who were in the foster care system themselves, and others who just have incredible drive and compassion towards improving upon it.
Today, December 4, 2016, I was fortunate enough to participate in event held by Together We Rise and Rue21 where 108 kids in the foster care system were each given a $100 gift card to Rue21 and we, as volunteers, got to take them on a shopping spree there. I was partnered with a young 15-year old girl and we took off, shopping our little hearts out. This reminded me of shopping with my mom when I was younger, piling the things I liked onto her before trying them on in the dressing room, and I realized, for this girl, this wasn’t an ordinary occurrence. I grew up so lucky to have my mom around and able to take me shopping when we wanted to. This was really a special moment for her. We might have gone a bit over budget (my treat) but it was so important to me that she have a memorable, important day, like the childhood memories I am blessed enough to have.
Giving is such a big part of the holiday season. The gratitude on this girl’s face when she left with her shopping bags was so heartwarming. Then, a bit after, as I was talking to one of the girls who works at Together We Rise, the girl’s foster mother came back in to find me and gave me a hug. She was so grateful that I had given this girl such an experience and made her feel so spoiled. I kept thanking her, as she didn’t have to take on this role in life, but she chose to, and on top of that, she chose to drive two-hours this morning for this girl to be able to participate in this event. It was emotional, and I realized how this simple gift meant so much.
You can learn more about Together We Rise at www.togetherwerise.org
*For privacy reasons, we were asked not to take my photos at the event and they will release approved ones later which I will update this post with.