Thousands of children being raised by grandparents got a little something extra this holiday season, thanks to a $200,000 grant that AARP’s Grandparent Information Center (GIC) distributed to grandparent support groups around the country. The funds were contributed to the AARP Foundation from the Anheuser-Busch Corporation specifically to make the holidays merrier.
"We were able to help support groups make the holidays happier for families in 34 states," said Jane King of AARP. "We know from our work in the Grandparent Information Center that grandparents raising grandchildren often find their finances stretched to the limit, she said. "They hadn’t counted on raising children a second time," she added.
The 2000 Census found 4.5 million children–6.3 percent of all children under 18–lived in grandparent-headed households, up from 3.5 million in 1999, and about 2.4 million grandparents provide primary support for their grandchildren.
The GIC and AARP state offices looked at groups’ needs and their proposals for spending the money in determining how to distribute it. "Anheuser-Busch made a real difference for a lot of families," said King. Some 46 support groups were given money, she added.
Eight groups in Missouri, home to Anheuser-Busch, reaped the benefits of the donation, said AARP-Missouri Associate State Director Diane Hall. Hall said the groups opted to distribute gift certificates to be used for coats, shoes, groceries and child safety seats.
Groups in Maryland and Louisiana and Tennessee in Tennessee hosted holiday dinners for their group members and the children they are raising. Hawaii’s Intergenerational Network will use the money from AARP to give grandparent-headed families a chance to have fun and build family unity by learning to sail a three-masted schooner in the Pacific. In Alabama, the Montgomery Area Council on Aging presented grandparents with gift certificates, while in Arkansas the YWCA planned on buying winter coats for family members. In Arizona, the Beatitudes Center decided to spend its money on a Hispanic family celebration and to print grandparent guides in Spanish.
In Connecticut, Family Life Education Inc. provided families with winter coats and holiday dinners. The Martin Luther King Multi-Service Center in Indiana and another group in Tennessee also gave winter coats to its members. The Council of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in Florida will provide much needed respite care.
In Montana, a total of 10 groups, many of them serving Native American communities, gave families holiday gifts, clothing and food.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. We provide information and resources; engage in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy; assist members in serving their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members. These include AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our quarterly publication for Hispanic members; NRTA Live and Learn for National Retired Teachers Association members; and our Web site, www.aarp.org. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.