SAN ANTONIO – Jabez Tompkins isn’t letting foster care or a global pandemic stop him from graduating high school.
He has spent the last three years at SJRC Texas, formerly St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a campus for high-risk foster youth.
“It’s been pretty hectic but I’ve been trying to get through it, doing all my work trying to graduate,” Tompkins said.
He is one of 562 foster youth in Texas graduating high school this year. About 100 are in the Bexar County region.
A local philanthropist wanted to make sure they all felt cared for, special, and celebrated.
”Adopt a Senior was really just aiming to give graduating foster children a graduation gift. Something they can call their own,” said 20-year-old Hunter Beaton.
Beaton founded the nonprofit Day 1 Bags, which offers high-quality duffel bags and backpacks to foster kids who often travel from home to home with their belongings in trash bags. Several of his own adoptive siblings came from foster care.
Last year Beaton started the Adopt a Senior program, giving those same bags to graduating seniors, filled with gifts including $100 gift cards.
In 2020, with the help of the local community, he was able to give a gift bag to every graduating foster youth in Texas and he’s ready to do it again this year.
”I was excited because I got a whole bunch of stuff for my college dorm. I got bedding, lights, decorations,” said former foster youth Faith Edmonds.
Edmonds lived at SJRC Texas at the end of her time in foster care and graduated high school last year.
“I think it was probably one of the best days of my life, because I had all the (SJRC) staff around me when I graduated,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds said she felt even more support when she realized a whole community of strangers had pitched in to “adopt” her as a graduate.
“I would just like to say thank you because it does mean a lot and it does make me feel like everyone else,” Edmonds said.
Now a biochemical engineering student at the University of Houston, Edmonds said she is thrilled her peers like Tompkins will soon receive their own Adopt a Senior gifts and bags.
”There are like thousands of people that are willing to help me and make sure I’m okay. I feel special,” Tompkins said.
Beaton said all donations are due by Feb. 15 and hopes that the community will come together like last year.
To donate, head to the Adopt a 2021 Senior from Foster Care Facebook Page, click the sign-up button at the top and fill out the Google donation form.