08KidsPeaceEvery day we are presented with countless opportunities. What to wear, what to eat, how to spend our time, who to spend it with … We take these moments for granted without a second thought. Yet for children in the foster care system, circumstances far from their control hinder their opportunities.

Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” In the United States, KidsPeace is one organization that tirelessly works for the benefit of kids who do not have a biological home. KidsPeace will host the 4th Annual Chair-ity Auction Thursday, Sept. 28, at 5 p.m. The event will showcase 50 chairs for auction that have been transformed into art by exclusively local artists.

KidsPeace celebrated its 135th founding anniversary last week. Its mission is “to give hope, help and healing to children, adults and those who love them.” This includes educational services, therapeutic treatments and providing basic human needs such as clothing for foster children.

As a private charity, it relies heavily on donations and volunteers to provide its services. But the local chapter in Fayetteville has devised a truly creative way to bring in money for its Foster Care Children’s Fund.

According to Fayetteville’s KidsPeace program manager Jennifer Lescaleet, the event has grown significantly over the years from roughly 12 chairs to the now standard 50 chairs, which are on display throughout downtown’s local businesses.

“I love working with the people I work with, the kids, the families and the community,” Lescaleet said. “The support over the last few years, especially toward this event, has been amazing because it all goes back to our kids.”

Last year alone, the Chair-ity Auction raised roughly $44,000. The group hopes to surpass that goal this year.

Lescaleet said, “Every chair started out as a chair somebody put on the curb or didn’t want anymore because they got a new one or tossed it away. So I can see how every individual or group (of artists) put time, effort, energy, love and support into doing each chair. It ties into what we do at foster care. For me, it’s a symbolic connection.”

The Foster Care Children’s Fund provides many necessities for children in the area. According to Lescaleet, educational improvement is a huge part of the fund’s allocation. Specifically, the organization funds the support of private school education, getting school supplies and clothes that fit and make children feel good on their first day of school.

“We’re seeing a lot of kids as they transition and move around a lot,” said Lescaleet. “It’s very difficult for them to stay within a school setting, and so we try to support whatever we can as far as getting them the education they need.”

The Children’s Fund also allows for the KidsPeace Winter Gala every year, where foster care families can join in solidarity to have fun, dance and get prizes.

“One of the nice pieces to this puzzle that makes it complete is that when we come together, everyone will bring something different to make sure that each year this charity auction is an amazing and successful event, raising funds for our kids in care,” Lescaleet said. “You don’t have to be a foster parent to support kids, families and the foster care world.”

The Chair-ity Auction will take place at the Metropolitan Room at 109 Green St. General admission is $25 per person. Vote online for your favorite chair. Tickets can be purchased at www.charityauction.com/events/.

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