Press Conference: Holiday Laptop Drive Launched to Help the Growing Number of Foster Youth in Alaska

Rep. Les Gara

Foster Youth Advocates to Purchase Laptops with $20,000 Donation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 18, 2014

(ANCHORAGE) – Today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA) are launching a Laptops for Foster Youth Holiday Drive with a press conference at 11 a.m. They will announce the drive, which will be augmented by a recent $20,000 donation, at the Dimond Center in Anchorage. The press conference will take place at the entrance just west of Best Buy. Following the press conference Rep. Gara and Facing Foster Care in Alaska co-founder Amanda Metivier will purchase discounted computers at local stores.

The Laptops for Foster Youth effort works to match gently used and new laptops with the over 2,300 foster youth in Alaska. Organizers are seeking new and used laptops as well as tax deductible donations.

“Many of us will be spending the holidays with family and friends but for foster youth the holidays can be a bitter reminder that they are separated from their families,” said Rep. Gara, who grew up in foster care after his father was killed when Gara was six. “The system that exists in Alaska often forces foster youth to move between five to 15 foster homes. Having a portable laptop computer can help youth in school, help them to stay connected to their relatives and friends, and give them a way to keep pictures of family members who mean a lot to them.”

Rep. Gara and fellow foster youth advocate Amanda Metivier jointly started the Laptops for Foster Youth effort four years ago to improve foster youth opportunity and normalcy. In that time the organization has helped roughly 400 current and recently released foster youth get laptops. A recent $20,000 donation from Anchorage’s LAP Foundation will help, though the number of foster youth far exceeds the funds available to get laptops to youth who need them for school and to normalize their lives.

“Our foundation supports Alaska’s foster youth and we hope this donation can help more youth stay connected,” said LAP Foundation President Kate Giard.

The number of foster youth in Alaska has been increasing in recent years and now stands at over 2,300, up from just 1,700 a few years ago. New research from the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research shows that children in Alaska are twice as likely to be in foster care as children nationwide.

“Many of Alaska’s foster youth live with few material possessions and don’t have the same opportunities as other kids their own age,” said Facing Foster Care in Alaska co-founder Amanda Metivier. “I have seen first-hand how a laptop can help a foster child stay engaged and motivated in school. I’m hoping that Alaskans will be generous with their laptop donations during this holiday season.”

Gara and Metivier are asking for donations of new or gently used laptop computers that have word processing and wi-fi connectivity. To donate a laptop computer please call Rep. Gara’s office at (907) 269-0106. Facing Foster Care in Alaska will also accept cash donations to purchase laptops. All donations are tax deductible.

“Without my laptop I would not be able to do the things I do,” said current UAA nursing student Gary Lose, who aged out of the foster care system in April. “It’s a detriment not to have a computer in a world where a computer is such an asset for school and work.”

The Laptops for Foster Youth Holiday Drive will kick off with a press conference this morning at 11 a.m. in Anchorage at the west entrance of the Dimond Center Mall near Best Buy. The press conference will feature Rep. Gara and Amanda Metivier with Facing Foster Care in Alaska, along with a youth with experience in the foster care system in Alaska.

For more information, please call Rep. Les Gara at (907)-250-0106 or Amanda Metivier at (907) 230-8237. For donation information please contact Rep. Gara’s office.

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