Most of my life I arranged it so I had a walk-a-round job; you know, wandering around with a clipboard, looking official, and gawking at stuff while saying things like, “uh huh” and “oh-oh.” Some pointing is needed to make it look official. No one ever knew who I was or what I was doing. I perfected this skill during the 1960s when I served in the US Air Force.
Now retired, nothing has changed. I still float around, and nobody knows what I am doing. Why just the other day I was wandering about down at the Caring For Kids Central World Headquarters located right here in Lakewood.
I asked some dumb questions while I was there. Learning follows questions. People always say, “There is no such thing as a dumb question.” Of course, they stop saying that after hearing a couple of my questions.
So who should I bump into, but two of Lakewood’s world-class volunteers, Walli Roarke, and Diane Formoso.
Walli has been a volunteer at Greater Lakes Mental Health (GLMH) in various and multiple capacities for over 25 years. Walli who still volunteers on GLMH committees, recently completed her second term on the GLMH board of directors. With newfound time on her hands, Walli immediately volunteered to help Diane with Caring For Kids.
Diane has volunteered with what eventually became Caring For Kids program for over 43 years.
Walli and Diane took me on a tour of the official gargantuan Caring For Kids Donation Warehouse.
Forty-three years ago Diane Formoso was driving a school bus for Clover Park Schools when a little boy, who was one of her school bus travelers, came to her with tears filling his eyes. He told her Santa Claus would not visit his house for Christmas because his mother had to use their Christmas money to pay the rent.
Diane, being a live-action hero, instantly took steps to make sure Santa Claus dropped down the boy’s chimney.
When Diane, who is the founder and Executive Director of Caring For Kids hears about a new problem in our community, she immediately moves into problem-solving mode. As a result just look at the following list of her solution programs.
CARING FOR KIDS is the parent organization. Multiple helpful programs radiate out from Caring For Kids. She is partnered with many organizations and businesses in our community to make magic happen when it comes to helping others in our community.
EMERGENCY FOOD BANK was opened at Evergreen Elementary on Fort Lewis after Diane learned a family had no food for three days.
CLOTHING BANK serves 1,000 kids each year. A regular distribution order includes a coat, three shirts, three pants and a pair of shoes, along with socks and underwear, if needed.
HOLIDAY FAIR moved under Diane’s community help umbrella after another group backed out on supporting the program. The program was designed to help 25 families. In no time, under Diane’s leadership, the program served 37 families. Today, the program serves 2000 kids.
COLOR BOOKS & CRAYONS: Numerous social organizations, who partner with Caring For Kids distribute these materials to deserving kids. Do you remember the kid joy you experienced while learning to color inside the lines of a coloring book? Can you imagine a kid who grows up never owning a coloring book? That is no way to live.
SCHOOL SUPPLY BANK: Power shopping is used to purchase school supplies at the best prices in July and August. They are then given out to the kids in need.
READY TO LEARN FAIR: Caring for Kids partners with a ton of Lakewood organizations, too numerous to mention, to distribute materials that help children to get prepared to learn as they start school each year.
READ ACROSS AMERICA: Early Learning Kids and low-income kindergarten students receive books to get them started on their reading adventure of life. Most of these kids cannot afford books.
HYGIENE PRODUCTS: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hygiene kits, deodorant, combs and head lice kits.
GROWING UP FUN BAGS: These kits help kids succeed in school.
EMERGENCY FOOD KITS: Kids should not be allowed to starve in America.
AIR BED PROGRAM: The program distributed 442 air beds along with blankets and pillows to people in our city who had no where to sleep.
MCDONALDS $5 GIFT CARDS: Caring For Kids distributes gift cards to homeless and struggling families.
BABY CLOTHING: Some babies have no clothing. That can’t be in America.
Walli Roarke and Diane Formoso and their merry band of unpaid volunteers do a lot for our community including stretching all the donated dollars by “power shopping.” Retail stores around town call Diane when they want to clear out merchandise. For example, she buys $40 shoes for $4 a pair, and she uses her power shopping process all around town.
Would you like to do something to help Caring For Kids help others? Here is all you have to do, and it will be fun. Commit to supporting your community by attending the Happy Hearts Dinner Auction.
Saturday, February 3, 2018, 5:00 P.M.
Clover Park Technical College – Sharon McGavick Center
Caring For Kids is also asking for donations of live and silent auction items plus sponsors. Remember they are an all-volunteer non-profit organization helping thousands of kids in need every year.
Facebook: caring for kids.
I went to the dinner auction last year, and it was fun. Get your ticket(s) and have a great night out. If you do, you will be a big help.