Sleep Awareness Week is March 8 – 14!

The National Sleep Foundation will host its annual Sleep Awareness Week March 8 to 14, 2020.  According to sleepfoundation.org, “the annual event celebrates sleep health and encourages the public to prioritize sleep to improve their overall health and well-being.”

Sleep Awareness Week raises our consciousness of safe sleep – especially for our children.  Safe sleep for children in foster care is the primary service of Arizona Helping Hands.  In the summer of 2013, we learned that there was no charity in Arizona that assisted with beds and cribs for children when they are placed in the foster care system.  We stepped in to fill this void, and by doing so have cemented our position as the largest provider of essential needs to Arizona’s boys and girls in foster care.

Prior to 2013, it was not unusual to hear of children who had been removed due to abuse and neglect who slept on piles of blankets on floors or fought over whose turn it was for the sofa at Grandma’s house.  Safe, comfortable sleep is of critical importance for the health of children.  A good night’s sleep prepares boys and girls to be alert at school and helps alleviate anxiety and tension in lives that have seen way too much stress.

Think of the babies – the consequences of babies not sleeping safely can have horrific consequences.  Did you know that every 5 days, a baby in Arizona suffocates while sleeping? Do you know the ABC’s of safe sleep?  A baby should always A) Sleep Alone, B) on their Back, C) in a Crib.

Over the last 7 years our Safe Place to Sleep program has provided 14,344 boys and girls with their own sanctuary – a twin bed or crib to sleep on tonight.  Sleep Awareness Week is a perfect opportunity to say thanks to all the donors who have made this important service possible.  Without contributions from our community, and the dollars Arizona taxpayers donate to us through the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit program, Joey and Kaisha would still be fighting over whose turn it was for the sofa tonight, and who would be left to sleep on the floor!

As you read this, 14,000+ children are in our state’s foster care system.  Every day we meet foster parents, grandparents and others who are called into service to provide love and safety to these kiddos at a moment’s notice.  Arizona Helping Hands is frequently the first stop on their foster care journey.  They know we will help with beds, cribs, clothing, diapers and more to provide safety, stability and health to boys and girls whose lives have been disrupted and put at risk.

Please consider donating to support our work.  The State of Arizona allows individual taxpayers to contribute $1,000 per year ($500 as a single taxpayer) to Arizona Helping Hands (QFCO#10003) and receive every dollar back when you file your State tax return.  You can decide if your dollars will go into our State treasury or be directed to give a child a place to safely lay down their head tonight.

During Sleep Awareness Week, I hope you enjoy many nights of peace and safety, but please don’t forget the thousands of children who rely on Arizona Helping Hands to experience basic comfort and safety in their very own bed!

Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization at www.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org

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