Linda Shanahan and her husband Hugh have been supporting and advocating for foster children and foster families since 1981.
Linda Shanahan didn’t have a lot of things when she was growing up in Tampa, Florida. Her family was so poor she started making her own clothes in fourth grade. Despite that, she remembers her father giving a man the last $5 he had one day. When she asked him why, he said it was because the man needed it to buy food for his children.
“Ever since then, I’ve always tried to help,” she said.
Her junior year of high school, she used the money she made ironing clothes for two women to throw a Christmas party at her home for 13 orphaned children. It would be several years before she had the means to throw another Christmas party. In 2003, as a real estate agent selling oceanfront rental properties in Georgia, she used her disposable income to throw Christmas parties for foster children. While living in coastal Georgia and stationed at Glynco, they decided to give back to the community they lived in by providing clothing and school equipment to all foster families and children who asked for assistance. By 2005 they were providing an annual Christmas Party for almost 300 foster families including the biological children in the foster family. That effort earned Linda Shanahan the award of “Woman of the Year” presented by the combined Rotary Clubs of SE Georgia.
In early 2006 Linda retired and they sold their home in Georgia moving back back to Indiana, Hugh’s home state. They continue to live here and have continued with their concern and support for the foster children.
In 2012 they decided to devote their entire retirement time to this little recognized, and for the most part unfunded cause. Hugh and Linda
incorporated “Kids Do Matter, Inc.” in the State of Indiana and applied for IRS approval as a 501(c)3 not for profit charity. They subsequently received IRS certification as a 501(c)3 fully tax deductible charity making all donations to KDM fully tax deductible by both federal and state income taxing agencies.
In December, 2013 KDM funded and presented the first “Annual Christmas Party for Foster Families” that includes both the biological and foster children of every family in the over 200 foster homes in the five county area in South Central Indiana, in and around Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana. In 2013 KDM provided a full Christmas luncheon for over 450 foster family members, and distributed over 1,700 individually selected and wrapped gifts for over 180 foster and biological children of these families. Over this past 2014 spring and summer months, KDM has additionally delivered over 400 sets of new school and play clothing to approximately 125 foster children in the 4 county metro areas.
In the State of Indiana there are currently over 14,000 children, most under the age of 11 years, living in foster families. Several hundred more wait state processing for placement. In our area there are over 350 foster children living in approximately 90 foster homes. The national statics are staggering, irrespective of the state in which you now reside. The State of Indiana unfortunately ranks nationally in the top 10 of all states in child abuse and abandonment! Someone noted that in today’s world, children are having babies, and throwing them away. The State of Indiana recently released the most recent statistics for our state concerning child abuse and neglect. In 2012, 295 children in the State of Indiana died from either neglect or abuse with 60% of them under the age of 1 year. (Source: Ind.gov Department of Child Services) To the best of their knowledge, there is no other charitable incorporated organization that is 100% dedicated to foster families, foster children and adopted children who matriculate through the foster care system in the State of Indiana.