By Cameron Barnes
Foster children live throughout the Texas Panhandle. In Randall and Potter counties alone, 349 children are in foster care, and the odds of success for a foster child are low.
According to national statistics, almost half of foster children never will complete high school, and 66 percent of them will be homeless, go to jail or die within the first year of leaving the foster care system at the age of 18.
Amarillo College has a club that helps graduating foster children as they move into their own apartments and attend college. The nonprofit club is Badger Hearts.
Badger Hearts was started more than 10 years ago by an AC student who had came out of foster care. The student started the club to raise money for young adults who age out of foster care after turning 18 or graduating from high school.
Once a foster child ages out of the foster care program, the state no longer sends the foster family financial support, and foster children can be left on their own without a support system. Badger Hearts provides that support system and prepares them for success, said Bruce Moseley, a Badger Hearts adviser and assistant professor/legal assistant.
The club provides students with a hope chest containing household items and other useful gifts to help the transition to college as smoothly as possible. The gifts are presented at a banquet in the spring to which graduating foster care students from the area are invited. The gifts are bought with fundraiser money from the previous fall semester.
Any AC student can join the club and help with fundraisers. Fernanda Aguilar, an education major, said, “I joined the club because I was really interested in doing something for the community instead of for myself.” Aguilar is in her third semester at AC and is involved in the monthly fundraisers.
Member Taylor Pedigo, an education major, is in her second year at AC. She said she finds being part of Badger Hearts rewarding.
“It is a blessing to be a part of,” she said. “Seeing faces of people you’ve never met helping you out.”
Joining the club is easy. Simply attend the club meetings at noon each Monday in the private dining room next to the bookstore in the College Union Building.
To contribute money to Badger Hearts is even easier. Just enjoy a meal at next month’s barbecue fundraiser.