PROVO, Utah — Utah First Lady Abby Cox spent Saturday in Provo as part of her "Show Up" initiative. She and about a dozen volunteers handed out thank you kits to foster care families in Utah county as a way of recognizing them for their hard work.
"It's been really emotional," Cox said after handing out several kits. "Each of these families that we come in and thank are overwhelmed because a lot of them have never been thanked. A lot of them have never felt like they mattered."
Each foster care thank you kit included donations of products or discounts from over 20 different business around the state.
"Each of these bags were put together for their specific region," Cox added. "So, their bags will get what's regional to them."
"Coming today to be able to support these families, as each of them have come up to get their bags, it's been amazing to be able to see their light and see their joy," said foster parent Leisha Anne Corbett. "Saying, 'Hey, I am being recognized, I am doing something incredible.'"
Corbett and her husband have been foster parents for three years.
"It's been an amazing opportunity to learn about so many children, and their different diversities and cultures and experiences," she said. Over the past year, the two have fostered 19 children. "We knew that there was already children here on earth that were going through difficult times that needed a home, needed a place to call home, needed a family to learn from and grow from."
Lindsay Keading, communications director for Raise the Future, said at any given time there are more than 2,000 kids in Utah's foster care system.
"Right now, there's just over 1,200 foster families in the state," she added. "There is always a need for foster families, for relative families, for adoptive families, for mentors. For people in the community to just step up and really support all of the kids that are currently in the foster care system in Utah."
She encourages more people to consider becoming foster parents, but said there are plenty of other ways people can help out.
"Help prepare a meal for them. See if you can help clean their house. See if you can help them with errands or groceries," Keading said. "You know, any little, small thing can make such a big difference."
According to Raise the Future's website, foster children with a steady adult present in their lives are 110 percent more likely to go to college, twice as likely to get married and seek mental health support and are half as likely to experience homelessness.
"It's really important that we all work together, and that's what Utahns do," Cox said. "That's what we're good at, is really rallying around and wrapping ourselves around those families."
Learn more about becoming a foster parent by heading to utahfostercare.org