Around the globe, there are kids waiting in foster homes for a forever family. This is no different in Arkansas, where thousands of children await a family to take them home.
But in Arkansas, there’s one organization that is helping to make a difference. Project Zero is aiming to connecting foster kids with families who will cherish them, and ultimately bring the number of kids in foster care to zero.
Founded in 2011, Project Zero was born out of the Pulaski County Adoption Coalition, which was started roughly 15 years ago. The organization’s leaders realized they needed an overhaul, and Project Zero emerged into being.
Since that time, Project Zero has established a range of annual events as well as special happenings designed to bring awareness to the plight of foster children. Some of these initiatives include individual short films of foster kids, a Cheers for Zero dinner, an Aiming for Zero dinner party and more.
It’s all clearly working. The organization secured 196 adoptions in the last year, and the adoption numbers are only growing. This accounts for a fourth of the adoptions Project Zero has done in its entire history.
“Waiting kids — kids in foster care who are waiting to be adopted — are counting on us,” Project Zero executive director Christine Erwin told AY Magazine in an interview. “They have no other voice but ours. They have no ability to let people know about them, and so it is our responsibility. I made the comment this week that while all of us are longing to get out of our homes, longing to leave home, waiting kids are longing to find one.”
Now, Project Zero is introducing an array of new events and offerings to further its adoption mission. In November, it will be holding its familiar Aiming for Zero celebration and will be offering special photoshoots and a sport clays tournament.
While the Aiming for Zero celebration isn’t new, Project Zero is putting a new spin on it. Due to COVID-19, it will be a celebration to-go. The event will be held on Nov.6, and participants will receive a basket filled with a gourmet, four-course meal prepared by local chefs, along with wine and a floral arrangement that is designed for four guests.
Aiming for Zero celebration baskets are $300 each. The Little Rock basket will be prepared by P/K Catering @ Cypress Social, and the menu will feature “Peppadew Cheese & Everything Crackers,” a house salad, a bourbon pork loin with bacon peach jam, and chocolate bread pudding.
In Northwest Arkansas, baskets can be ordered for two people for $175 or four people for $300. This menu, prepared by The Hive, will feature a pimento cheese with bacon jam on toasted white bread, a house salad, a chicken confit with braised greens and roasted sweet potatoes, and pecan pie.
There will also be special photoshoots in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas as part of Aiming for Zero. These free photoshoots will capture the happiness of adoptive families.
With Christmas just around the corner, Project Zero is also preparing for the holidays. It will be holding a Candyland Christmas To-Go to ensure that more than 350 children and teens in foster care have a memorable Christmas.
The nonprofit, working with Arkansas DCFS, is compiling Christmas wish lists from children waiting in foster care. These wish lists will be put on an online Christmas tree, where people, churches and businesses can choose children to shop for Christmas.
Individuals can “adopt” a list for a child or children, donate gift cards or donate funds to the Candyland Christmas To-Go. Project Zero is also seeking individuals to help wrap gifts. To volunteer, contact Cara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Zero will be unable to throw an event to distribute the gifts. Instead, they will be partnering with the Arkansas Trucking Association to deliver the gifts. It will be an all-day gift-delivering race to the finish – just like Santa does it!
To learn more about Project Zero’s Candyland Christmas To-Go, click here.