Stemilt and Hansen Fruit Donate Gifts to Foster Kids During Holiday Season; Kyler Hansen, West Mathison, and Kathryn Bolyard Comment
WENATCHEE, WA - The gift of Christmas cheer is priceless, and Stemilt and Hansen Fruit are spreading this and more in Washington state. For the program's ninth year, the two have joined forces to donate gifts to foster children, distributing presents to a total of 146 foster kids in the Wenatchee and Yakima communities.
“We are very grateful for the team members at Stemilt and Hansen Fruit to provide gifts to the area’s foster children,” said Stemilt President, West Mathison. “The gift drive has become a beloved Christmas tradition between our two companies and demonstrates our aligned values around supporting our communities. The stories we hear from social workers are incredibly heartwarming and inspiring.”
Those receiving the donations are all under the care of Washington State’s Department of Youth and Family Services, Fostering Solutions, K Connections, and Foster First.
This is the fourth year that Hansen Fruit has joined Stemilt to help make Christmas morning a memorable experience. Stemilt donated gifts to a total of 113 children while Hansen Fruit supported 33 kids at the Foster First agency in Yakima.
Kathryn Bolyard, organizer of the donation at Stemilt, took charge of the program in 2014, a press release explained. Prior to partnering with Hansen Fruit, Stemilt supported its highest number of foster children in 2017, reaching a total of 188 kids. In 2018, Bolyard connected with Kyler Hansen, Operations Manager at Hansen Fruit in Yakima, who gladly accepted the partnership.
“Our Stemilters strive to alleviate the expenses of Christmas by gifting anything from bicycles to barbie dolls,” said Bolyard. “The holidays are an expensive time for everyone, and many of these foster homes have multiple children. I’m overwhelmed by the astounding generosity I see every year from my fellow co-workers. Our staff looks forward to donating each year, and I usually have several eager individuals come to me for the list of foster children before I even receive it.”
Hansen also commented on this meaningful partnership and the donations made as a result.
“It will be five years in May that Stemilt and Hansen Fruit have been partners,” explained Hansen. “The compassion that Stemilt has shown their community has rubbed off on us, and our goal is to put a smile on every kid’s face on Christmas morning. It’s great to be able to help these kids who have struggled in their upbringing. We started receiving letters last year from foster children expressing their gratitude, and it was really special to hear how much it means to them.”
As the holiday season can be an uncertain time for many foster children, this partnership ventures to help kids build a healthier relationship with Christmas. Venus Lomeli, Director of Community Engagement at Foster First, and Director of Thrift Leah Hilaire, shared their experiences as they picked up the gifts provided by Hansen Fruit on December 16.
Click here to read their thoughts and reactions to Stemilt’s contribution.
Looking toward the 10th year of the program, I am sure that Stemilt and Hansen Fruit will achieve even more holiday success.