Pump Up the Kids provides foster teens a Christmas
It's a program based on a simple premise. Every teen deserves a Christmas.
With Toys for Tots taking care of children up to the age of 12, Pump Up the Kids started eight years ago when a DJ at radio station 94.7 KZND-FM had the idea to take care of "forgotten foster kids" who are not in permanent placement. As an adolescent who moved from foster home to foster home, the DJ understood the importance of the holiday season for teenagers.
Alaska Integrated Media president Mike Robbins helped to create Pump Up the Kids back then.
"These kids are at a critical time in their life when they want to fit in," Robbins said. "They already feel different because they are in the foster care system. Nobody to ask [for gifts] at Christmas. Nobody to give them Christmas gifts."
Pump Up the Kids provided gifts for over 500 teenagers in the Anchorage and Mat-Su last year. Alaska Integrated Media partners with Office of Children's Services and Alaska Center for Family Resources to gift three presents to each teen.
Teenagers ages 13 to 18 write a Christmas wish list, which can include whatever they'd like. The gifts and wishes vary, from Xboxes to brand new bikes. Some wish lists are very touching, like the list of one 17-year-old that made this year's program coordinator, Michael Jesperson, choke up.
"She wanted a push-popcorn popper, baby clothes, and some kind of a doll," Jesperson recalled. "That kid obviously has someone younger in their life that they're more worried about than themselves."
There are currently around 35 to 40 lists that need to be filled. Due to the earthquake on Nov. 30, one of the program's top fundraisers was cancelled.
There are currently 3,200 foster children in Alaska. Close to 1,000 of those kids are in the Anchorage and Mat-Su area according to OCS.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.
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