When things in her house started to seem “a little sad” during the COVID-19 lockdown, 9-year-old Taylor decided to take matters into her own hands and cheer up her family with a surprise party.

She summed up her event very simply. “Well, I got donuts for my family and put balloons up that had kind messages in them.”

Ordering and paying for donuts for her entire family, as well as decorating for a party with no help is no small feat (even if she did have a little help from Grandma with the snacks.) 

But Taylor’s wave of happiness started even before that, said Taylor’s mom, Treatment Foster Care (TFC) parent Janelle Janzen.

“Leading up to this family surprise party, she had everyone pick a name from a hat and then whoever’s name you got you needed to then do something kind for them,” explained Janelle.

Ranch Ehrlo’s TFC program is a specialized, accredited foster care program for children with complex needs who respond best in a family setting.

Since Taylor’s brothers – two biological and one foster – are younger than she is, she helped them out with their acts of kindness. On top of that, she gave little gifts to everyone – most notably, a keyboard that her foster brother has had his eye on for a while became his.

On the day of the party, besides her surprise treat of a box of 50(!) Tim Bits, Taylor organized a game where family members popped balloons to reveal kind messages.

“The little guy we foster absolutely loved the balloon game. He thought that was pretty awesome and he’s been trying to get us to play it since, actually,” Janelle said.  “Actually, I think her brothers are probably her toughest crowd. But they loved it. “

Although this is a strange, unprecedented time, families in all our programs are making the best of the increased time together.

“At the end of the day I’m all for academics, but if out of this time you have a chance to show kindness and figure out how to be a good person then I am always going to be far more grateful for that then some of those other things,” Janelle said. “So, I think things like this are those things that are very encouraging as a parent, to think like, ‘you get it. I felt really proud of her.”