Photo by Dan Andrews.
The Knoxville Area Association of Realtors donated over 200 backpacks to Youth Villages.

By Tasha Mahurin

“This is the third year we have been invited to join Youth Villages in this effort, and we appreciate the opportunity to support them as well as the hundreds of local families they work with in an effort to help those families stay together,” Carleen Palmer with The Knoxville Area Association of Realtors (KAAR) told The Focus.

Youth Villages staff picked up 207 backpacks from the KAAR office last week. Members of the association donate the backpacks filled with school supplies to East Tennessee children receiving help for emotional and behavioral problems through Youth Villages.

“The Knoxville area Realtors really stepped up to the plate to help local children get a positive jumpstart for the coming school year. Thanks to the efforts of all those Realtors who shopped and donated money, we exceeded our goal of giving over 200 of our community’s underprivileged children a new backpack filled with everything they need to start the school year right,” Palmer added.

Additionally, as the school year begins, Youth Villages is currently in need of caring adults in the Knoxville-area to open their homes to children who have suffered abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children need families who will care for them until they can return to their birth families or an adoptive family is found for them.

According to Youth Villages, the primary responsibility of a foster parent is to provide children with a safe, comfortable environment and monitor their emotional growth, school progress and physical health. They also serve as positive role models to children who may lack caring adults in their lives.

“Children who have experienced trauma benefit greatly from the love and support of a family,” Mariah Parton, Youth Villages foster parent recruiter, said. “Fostering can also be a rewarding experience for adults as they watch a child grow and succeed.”

Youth Villages provides foster parents with 24-hour access to counselors, support groups and a monthly stipend to offset the cost of adding a child to the home. Foster parents also often have the first right to adopt if the child becomes available for adoption.

Foster parents should be over the age of 25 and living in the Knox County area. Foster parents should have viable income, reliable transportation and be able to pass a background check and home study.

For more information about upcoming training classes or how you can change the life of a child, contact Mariah Parton, foster parent recruiter at 865-560-2558 or