East Bay teen creates blanket drive for foster kids


The Winter Wonderland Festival in Benicia is the only Christmas there will be for many foster children from Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties. Each child receives a blanket of their own through a program of the same name. It was started three years ago by then 15-year-old Sarah Williams. Her motivation was a book by a former foster child who sometimes shivered himself to sleep.

"And as I'm reading this, underneath five blankets of my very own, in the comfort of my own home, I was outraged. So I decided I would start dreaming that night of ways that I could help," said Sarah.

In its incredibly successful three year history, A Blanket of Their Own has provided well over 5,000 blankets to foster children. To think it all started with an Amador Valley High School student putting together that first blanket when she was just a freshman. What Sarah didn't know when she handed out that first blanket, was that that simple act of kindness would snowball into a project helping thousands children across the country and around the world.

"We're coast to coast and we're currently in Guam. The idea is that all foster care children in California, and there is over 80,000 children in the foster care system. So I'm hoping to eventually reach all those children one day, said Sarah.

Sarah, together with Foster a Dream, has brought businesses and civic groups together to ensure A Blanket of Their Own continues when Sarah goes away to college next fall.

"Sarah and all of her group and everyone involved make sure that our youth feel important and give a smile during a time when they're usually not smiling very much," said Tamara Earl of Foster a Dream.

Sarah has now started a stepping up program to provide foster children with shoes.

"One boy walked up and he had cardboard lined shoes on and he was looking through the rows and rows of new shoes and he found his new pair of Nikes and he jumped up and said 'I feel like I can do anything now.' And that is why I do what I do," said Sarah.

Earlier this week Sarah was in Sacramento with California First Lady Maria Shriver. She was honored as a winner of the Northern California Dreamers Challenge College Scholarship. She plans to major in public policy. Looks like Sarah's dream has just begun.

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