For close to two years now, families – like all of us – have faced greater challenges. Job loss, working and learning from home, isolation and other uncertainties have brought greater pressures on families and in turn, children.
Vital local organizations like Hand in Hand are here to help.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in the amount of people we see,” says Alice Casson, Executive Director of Hand in Hand, which supports Snohomish County children and families in crisis by providing services focused on protection, provision and permanence.
The non-profit organization offers both prevention services – helping support families navigate challenges like housing and food insecurity – and a 24-hour emergency shelter for children removed from their home for issues such as abuse or neglect. “It’s a soft place for kids to land when prevention doesn’t work,” Casson says.
Prior to the pandemic, the Hand in Hand team might see 500 people a year, however in the last 20 months or so they’ve connected with more than 5,000 people. Among those are 200 children, who’ve stayed an average of three days in the shelter, Casson notes.
“The need is huge – from housing insecurity, losing their job, wondering how to feed their families, and the mental health impacts that can come from the isolation.”
This season, and throughout the year, donations of food, clothing, infant supplies and toiletries are always needed. In addition, the annual toy drive is underway for families struggling to provide gifts for their children during the holidays – each child under 18 in the home will receive a fun item and a need item such as clothing, shoes or coat.
Beyond gifts in kind, “financial donations are always welcome as we can use the funds wherever the need is greatest at the moment,” Casson says, noting that giving securely is easy – simply visit handinhandkids.org where you can donate today – or take advantage of the Text to Give option: SnoCoGives to
Of course, the gift of time is also invaluable. Volunteers in the Hand in Hand shelter ensure a compassionate setting as children transition into care. Here, volunteer shifts are typically either four or eight hours once a month. Other opportunities include outreach, foster support services and more.
“We really build relationships with people,” Casson says. “We check in with them throughout the year and take a holistic view of what’s needed, so beyond our services, we can connect them with other organizations that can help them get back on track and build greater resiliency.”
Learn more about helping Snohomish County families today at handinhandkids.org