T-shirt campaign helps provide foster children with Christmas gifts

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A desire to help others led one woman to an idea that will help provide local foster children with a special holiday season.

The holidays are a time to spend with family. But for hundreds of foster kids in the Capital Region, that isn’t an option. Now, one local woman is doing her part to put a smile on kids’ faces one shirt at a time.

Amanda Zara remembers exactly how the idea came to her.

“So I was sitting at my desk one day, and I was thinking, ‘I need to do something. We’ve got to do something to get involved. I’m going to think of a way,’” she recalled.

Zara works at CZ Homes, LLC in Scotia. With the holidays, fast approaching she was determined to give back.

“It’s any impact or any difference I can make, even in just one life, it would mean the world to me, she said.

So she began making phone calls to find any organization that needed help. It was then she came in contact with Julie Brennan with the Berkshire Farm Center, which specializes in helping youth.

Zara called Brennan with the hope of forming a partnership.

“In New York State, there’s a growing need for foster parents,” Brennan said. “We were ecstatic, so we got the word out to our foster care team, and they were ecstatic, too.”

Then came the idea. It was a simple one that could make a big difference.

“We created a t-shirt,” Zara explained. “It’s a t-shirt campaign. One t-shirt bought is one child sponsored.”

There are 450 foster children in Berkshire’s foster care program statewide, and 112 of them are in the Capital Region. By going on the website and purchasing a shirt designed by Zara, you can help make sure a foster kid receives the gifts on their Christmas wish lists.

“For many of us, it’s a very happy time of year with friends and family, but for foster children it’s the worst time of year because it’s a remembrance of what they don’t have,” Brennan said.

But thanks to Zara and her t-shirts, the kids can still have a special holiday. Originally, Zara’s goal was to sell 80 shirts by the end of the month. As of Tuesday night, she’s already sold 71.

“Friends and family and even people that would never necessarily donate, I think they like the feeling of giving to something greater than themselves and really being able to make an impact, especially right here in our own backyard,” Zara said.

What started as an idea has become so much more, and Zara hopes it can inspire others.

“Anything you’re passionate about, set your heart to it and go,” she said.

The t-shirts are $25 each, but you can donate more if you wish.

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