Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
Since Caroline Jones and her family founded Kind to Kids in 2008, the nonprofit organization has improved the lives of more than 10,000 children in the Delaware foster-care system. Those kids have had the chance to attend 76ers, Phillies and Wilmington Blue Rocks games, and visit Longwood Gardens, the Delaware Children’s Museum and the Delaware Children’s Theatre.
MLT: You’re family has good taste in colleges.
CJ: I’m a Villanova University graduate, as is my son, Christopher. Catherine, my daughter, is a Saint Joseph’s University alum. They were instrumental in starting Kind to Kids.
MLT: How did that happen?
CJ: I’d tell my kids about the difficult lives of foster children. There may be love and stability, but there’s usually not a lot of money. My family was at an event, and there were a lot of empty seats. My kids thought foster children would love to have them, so we went to arenas and other venues and asked, “If you have empty seats at the last minute, would you give them to us? We’ll give them to kids in foster care.” Everyone said yes. It speaks to the power of community.
MLT: How did you know about the plight of foster kids?
CJ: About seven years ago, I became a court-appointed special advocate. We work with children who are in the system, and our goal is to find them safe, permanent homes. To do that, I talk with the biological parents, foster parents and school to help figure out what’s best. We become liaisons for the child in the courtroom and help with whatever is needed.
MLT: Sounds like tough work.
CJ: What the children endure is difficult. They come into the system after being abused and/or neglected. They have painful stories filled with terrible hardships. But the inspiring and rewarding thing is that we can help them.
MLT: What’s the reaction when they go to a game for the first time?
CJ: Kids say it’s the best day of their lives. That’s great—and sad. As we worked with them more, we found other ways to help them. We realize that, when kids leave home and come into foster care, they carry their belongings in trash bags. We stepped in to provide blue duffel bags. Inside are a blanket, a book and a stuffed animal. Since 2012, we’ve donated close to 2,000 of them.
MLT: What else does Kind to Kids do?
CJ: We have a life-skills education program for the older kids. We talk about healthy relationships, how to get a job, how to shake hands and answer interview questions, how to open a bank account, how to pay your rent and for food. Last year, 412 kids came to our classes. We give them skills so that, when they lead their lives, they can make good decisions.