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Sunday, August 31, 2014

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MSU group shows support for former foster youth


Social work senior Natalie Kyles helps her daughter, Kadence Carr, 3, bowl during an event put on by Foster Youth Alumni Services for foster care system alumni on Tuesday in the Union.

With the stress of finals around the corner, some students are in need of some extra support from their families. But for students who have aged out of the foster care system, such support is not always easy to find.

Foster Youth Alumni Services, which works to provide support to former foster youth, is working to change that.

Tuesday, Foster Youth Alumni Services distributed finals week survival kits and provided free bowling for former foster youth students. The group has been supplying kits at the end of each semester to former foster youth since it was first created four years ago.

The care packages were filled with gift cards, free bowling tickets for the Union, T-shirts, laundry detergent, snacks and other items to help students make it through the last few weeks of the semester, said Sarah Williams, social work senior and Foster Youth Alumni Services coordinator.

This year, about 30-35 care packages, created from monetary donations, were assembled for students. The group also received some premade care packages to distribute to students.

There are about 30 active students who participate in Foster Youth Alumni Services activities, and more than 170 foster youth alumni at MSU, Williams said.

Rahil Dharia, second-year medical student and former foster youth, attended the event.

He said he attends the pre-exam events at the end of each fall and spring semester.

“It’s nice because we usually don’t get to do fun things around this time,” Dharia said. “But when we come to this, we get out of the house and do fun things before finals week.”

Williams said it is important for Foster Youth Alumni Services to plan events like this for former foster youth to show them they have a support system.

“Other students receive care packages (from their families) around holidays or finals,” Williams said. “It’s a stressful time.”

She said around this time of year, students need more support, and those who cannot depend on their families should not have to do without.

“(Receiving care packages) is a way for them to feel like they belong and they have someone there to support them,” Williams said.

Tamara Banks, interdisciplinary studies in social science and community relations and psychology senior and former foster youth, also attended the event.

She said she has enjoyed being involved with Foster Youth Alumni Services because it has helped her make friends with people who understand what she’s going through.

“I have been attending events like this since I was a freshman,” Banks said. “It’s nice to know MSU cares and has something like this on campus for us.”

Williams said even if students did not attend the event at the Union on Tuesday, they still might get a care package.

The group will deliver leftover care packages to the dorms and homes of some students who did not attend the event. Care packages also can be picked up in Williams’s office at 58 Baker Hall.

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