Waiter raises $9,000 for foster parents
A man's kind-hearted birthday wish has raised more than $9,000 for a foster parents' charity.
Akil Darrell decided to raise money for the Foster Parents' Association instead of geting presents for his 37th birthday on October 29.
Now, the FPA is $9,349 better off after people queued up to donate.
Mr Darrell, from Warwick, picked the FPA after he met the charity's president, Lindsey Simmons, through his job as a waiter at Rosa's Cantina in Hamilton.
He said he was shocked when Ms Simmons taught him that foster parents got only $400 a month for each child.
Mr Darrell added it was hard to see how people could manage on so little. He said: “Four hundred dollars just covers the day-to-day expenses, so I decided I'll help the FPA because it's what they need.”
Mr Darrell added he asked friends and family on social media to donate and gave them the FPA's bank account number.
He said he also set up donation boxes in front of Rosa's Cantina and the Heron Bay MarketPlace in Southampton so passers-by could chip in.
Mr Darrell added that, because he has friends overseas, the FPA got donations from the US, the Caribbean and even Britain.
He said: “I waited around a week after October 29 to close the account to allow people's funds to keep being added.”
More than 100 people contributed, with one donation amounting to $6,000.
Mr Darrell said he was “a giver”, and that he had wanted to hold a donation drive for his birthday for years. He explained: “I've always wanted to do something like this for my birthday because I knew there were people who are struggling.
“I think if we all did something, just one little thing, it would make a lot of difference in our lives. Just one act of kindness would make a big difference.”
Mr Darrell added: “Foster children are like forgotten citizens, they have a family but they really don't have much, and they need all the support they can get because they go through a lot.
“I'd imagine they're thinking ‘I'm not with my real family, I've been tossed in a house with some strangers', so they need some sort of support.”
Ms Simmons said the charity was grateful for Mr Darrell's kindness. She added: “We're not one of the big charities that people just call up and say ‘hey, can we give you this money?' so we do get forgotten sometimes.”
Ms Simmons said that the money would be used to help foster families pay medical, educational and recreational expenses.
Mr Darrell said he planned to have another donation drive next year for schoolteachers.
He explained: “I really want to do schoolteachers because I realise that a lot of payments come out of their pockets to provide for their classes.
“I might just donate supplies because I feel like there isn't a charity, so I'll have to figure out how that's going to work.”
Mr Darrell said the members of the public should think about volunteering as a foster parent.
He added: “You can't just accept a kid if you're not financially ready, but I say go for it.
“It takes a village, so go for it.”