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For former foster child, Holiday Magic gift changed her life

(Photo via Treehouse)
LISTEN: Holiday Magic: Tash Haynes

For nearly 30 years, KIRO Radio listeners have donated during “Holiday Magic” to benefit Treehouse. It’s a local non-profit that supports foster kids throughout the year and especially around Christmas time.

For those of you that have given since the beginning of the partnership, it is entirely possible that your donation gave Tash Haynes her very first Christmas.

She was born-and-raised in Tacoma and, she says, born and raised in foster care, which means she never gave too much thought to the holidays.

Then, at age 12, Haynes’ social worker asked her a curious question that she’d never been asked before: What do you want for Christmas?

“I wasn’t really used to Christmas being something that I could look forward to because I never really got what I wanted,” Haynes said. “Nobody really asked me what I wanted and I didn’t really feel celebrated in that way. And so it was really weird for me to have the opportunity to be able to ask for anything that I wanted. I remember asking for a camera.”

She asked for a camera because as a foster kid she had no family pictures to look back on. She only had questions.

“I was always like ‘Well what did I look like as a baby?’ ‘What was I into?’ and, you know, ‘Where’s my family?’ I just could not find myself in any of that,” Haynes remembers.

She figured she’d have to create her own memories from this day on. Thanks to Treehouse, on Christmas morning all those years ago, Haynes got her first Christmas miracle.

“When I opened it up it was this Advantix film camera and it was, like, the best day of my life. I was so excited. It was one of the first times in my life that I asked for something and had received it and I was just so grateful and so exited about it,” Haynes said.

She says that as a 12-year-old foster kid this one gift meant, for the first time, someone was actually listening and that made her feel valued. She continued receiving Christmas gifts from Treehouse until she turned 18.

At 26, she started taking real steps towards living her dream.

“I have been a full-time professional photographer for the last eight years,” Haynes said. “I’ve traveled all over the world shooting, speaking. I host my own photography conference. I’ve been able to give my daughter, who’s five, an incredible life. A life that I would not have imagined for myself let alone for my child.”

In fact, Haynes was vacationing with her family in Hawaii at the time of this interview.

She believes this is all thanks to that one gift, likely provided by one small donation to one organization – Treehouse. It was a simple act of generosity that set in motion a life traveling the world and living her dream.

Back in Tacoma, Haynes continues that spirit of giving by sponsoring teens to attend her photography conferences. She hopes her one act of generosity might also do for them what Treehouse – and you – did for Haynes.

“We all have so much and we never really consider or think about the people who just like a small, little thing – something that would be a drop in the bucket for us – could be a huge deal for someone else,” Haynes said. “It could change the course of their lives. I really believe in the work that Treehouse does. It has shifted my life and it has changed my life for the better and I think that anybody who’s considering what they can do … I think there’s a really great opportunity there.”

See Tash Haynes’ work at her official photography website.

Join KIRO Radio and make the days brighter for a foster child in Washington State by donating today at Treehouseforkids.org.

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