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The second recipient of a $5,000 donation celebrating good people doing great things in the county is Friends of Foster Kids "Hats off to Grads".

First State Bank extends centennial philanthropy to Friends of Foster Kids

May 24, 2017 (St. Clair Shores, Michigan)

For most teens, graduating from high school is a milestone. For foster kids, it’s more like a miracle. Removed from their families due to abuse or neglect, foster children often attend multiple schools while bouncing from one temporary home to another. “Children in foster care must overcome insurmountable odds to complete high school without the benefit of family support,” says Theresa Toia, founder of Friends of Foster Kids. “They deserve to know the community is proud of their accomplishment.”

A Macomb County nonprofit, Friends of Foster Kids expresses this community pride through its “Hats Off to Grads” program. This year, the charity will recognize 41 graduating foster children. Honorees will receive a special gift, along with a care package of essentials that will come in handy whether they’re moving on to college or independent living.

In recognition of Friends of Foster Kids and its inspiration to the community, First State Bank is privileged to announce a donation of $5,000 as part of its centennial celebration. “Foster children are in a tough situation through no fault of their own,” says Gene Lovell, First State Bank’s president and CEO. “It’s an honor to support an organization that does so much to let these kids know their community cares.”

Founded in 1917, First State Bank will observe its 100th anniversary in October. Each month until then, it plans to donate $5,000 to a different local nonprofit. Honorees are nominated by bank employees and evaluated according to community impact. Friends of Foster Kids is the second $5,000 recipient. The first was the Macomb Charitable Foundation, which assists homeless children in the area.

Theresa Toia started Friends of Foster Kids from her Shelby Township basement in 2006. The idea germinated when her caseworker daughter expressed dismay that none of the foster kids on her caseload received a Christmas gift. Righting that wrong remains a big part of the charity’s mission. Last year, Friends of Foster Kids wrapped and delivered nearly 20,000 Christmas gifts to about 1,300 children in Macomb and Oakland counties, an effort that required more than 1,000 volunteers. Now operating out of donated space at The Foam Factory, a Macomb Township business, the charity focuses on Christmas, college, care and cars. Christmas means the Spirit of Christmas gifting program. College means Hats Off to Grads program. Care means any needs that a child entering into foster care may have. And the fourth emphasis—cars—involves helping foster children secure reliable transportation.

“With Hats Off to Grads, we provide items foster kids need to get launched in life—bedding, mini refrigerators, school supplies, storage bins,” Toia says. “We welcome donations, as well as sponsors willing to fill the wish list of a specific teen.” “Without the support of family, it is the caring and generous volunteer, like First State Bank, who steps up to make a difference in the life of a child,” Toia says. “We are extremely grateful for our network of volunteers, our dedicated angels. It takes a village to ensure the success of this much-needed program, and we thank you for helping us show the children that they matter. Through our volunteers, we continue to touch the hearts of foster children and transform lives. Together, we are changing lives – one child at a time!”

“First State Bank is grateful for this opportunity to invest in our community by supporting Friends of Foster Kids,” Lovell says. “Macomb County has been our home for 100 years. Neighbors like Friends of Foster Kids make it a privilege to serve this community.”

To donate to Friends of Foster Kids or for more information, please visit the organization online or call 586-307-4438.

First State Bank was named “Best Bank” by Macomb Daily readers from 2011 to 2016 and Corporate Citizen at Macomb County Business Awards for 2014 and 2015.

First State Bank is headquartered in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. With 100 years of service and $692 million in assets, First State Bank serves Macomb County with 11 branch offices located in Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, Eastpointe, Macomb Township, Richmond, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Washington Township, and Loan Centers in Sterling Heights and Farmington Hills. For more information, please visit or call 866-372-1275.