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Senior at Selma High School working to empower foster youth in Fresno County

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Mari's Sweet Cases provides a foster child in Fresno County with a new duffel bag-- each comes with a hygiene kit and coping item. (KFSN)

When Maria Fernanda, a senior at Selma High, isn't working on her studies you can find her assisting on the assembly line in the school cafeteria. But it is what she does in her free time that she is most proud of.

"This is a personal mission for me."

Graduation may be nearing for Fernanda but "Mari's Sweet Cases" is no senior project.

"For me it's a sense of empowering foster youth and letting them know they matter."

Mari's Sweet Cases provides a foster child in Fresno County with a new duffel bag-- each comes with a hygiene kit and coping item like a teddy bear and coloring kits for younger children.

Fernanda's working to get stuffed duffel bags for older foster youth as well.

"It's a struggle getting used to new environments constantly."

Having spent the majority of her life in the foster system Fernanda has moved from more than five group homes and residential placements. At each she has been able to hold onto her belongings but it is how they were packed that inspired her mission.

"It's always been in trash bags and it makes me feel very vulnerable," said Fernanda. "I've had my items thrown out through the window by group home staff."

Once Fernanda started settling in with her now guardians she looked for ways to reach out and give back to kids like herself.

"It feels really good having the support system that I have and having people believe in me the way they do and not giving up on me."

That is how she found "Together We Rise"-- a non-profit aimed at helping foster children nationwide. Together they have teamed up to serve Fresno County foster youth. So far they have raised more than $3,000 for Mari's Sweet Cases and the number is climbing.

If you interested in getting involved click here or check out her May 27th event at common space.

Related Topics:
societyfresno countyselmahigh schoolfoster kidsSelma
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