Our program is committed to helping improve the lives of foster youth in Sonoma County. We focus on two annual initiatives:
Each fall, we shop for and distribute gifts to over 250 local foster youth. In the spring, we gift laptops to transitioning foster youth attending Santa Rosa Junior College, county community colleges, and even some 4-year universities!
Currently in its 67th year, The Give-a-Gift program began as an opportunity for individuals to give back by adopting a foster youth to shop for during the holidays. The generosity of donors who chose to do this was extraordinary — overflowing gift packages were beautifully wrapped and delivered to Human Services for distribution by Social Workers.
As the need and number of youth in the foster care system grew, our program expanded to meet those needs. It has become a vibrant, successful fundraising program that creates holiday magic. For many children, it’s the only gift they receive.
How we determine the need: The SCMAA coordinates directly with Sonoma County Family, Youth and Children's (FYC) Division to provide holiday gifts to children in foster care. Social Workers from FYC provide specific gift requests for youth in the Sonoma County Foster Care System.These children have entered the Foster Care System and have been separated from their families through no fault of their own. This separation is particularly difficult during the holidays. The generosity of our supporters helps lessen their sadness during this season by providing gifts matched directly to their wishes. These gifts often provide essentials such as winter coats, clothing, books and school supplies. Our all-volunteer committee works tirelessly to shop for and fulfill each specific gift request.
In 2015, we expanded our gift giving to include local schools in Santa Rosa. Austin Creek, Sequoia, Madrone, Yulupa, and Strawberry elementary schools have all become part of our team to help fulfill and spread holiday love and cheer. "It takes a village to raise a child," especially with foster youth. These collaborating schools make a difference for foster youth and promote awareness within our community. Each school has an SCMAAF member who is the point person for our fall gift giving efforts
Bike Gifts: For foster youth, bikes are not just a form of recreation. They become a mode of transportation to and from school, or, for older youth, to and from a part-time job. We've coordinated our bicycle purchases through Mike's Bikes. In addition to giving us generous pricing on high-quality road bikes, Mikes Bikes has donated helmets for the safety of the cyclists.
Annually, Give-a-Gift provides 20-30 laptop computers to foster youth. Each laptop package cost approximately $700 and includes software, accessories and a warranty. Our partnerships with Best Buy and Microsoft helps keep our laptop program affordable.
We expanded our program in 2007 to address the difficulties facing older foster youth. Many factors cause foster youth to suffer from a range of poor educational outcomes, including low high school graduation rates and significant challenges pursuing postsecondary education. Statistics are dire for foster youth enrolling, completing units, and graduating from college.
Our solution to remove these educational barriers and bridge gaps was to give them a valuable tool crucial to their academic access and success: a personal laptop computer.
How we determine the need: We partner with the Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cub Scholars program, the SRJC NextUP Program and VOICES Youth Programs of Sonoma County to provide laptop applications for foster youth pursuing post secondary education. They identify students who qualify and forward completed applications.
VOICES Sonoma provides young people aging out of the foster care system with family-like support, acceptance, and accountability as they set own goals and pursue them across VOICES’ youth-led core programs: health and wellness, career and education, and ILP-Independent Living Program
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Give-a-Gift is a program of the Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Give-a-Gift Committee Members: