SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Amber Illescas and her sister both spent the first few years of their lives in foster care.

"My mom had adopted my sister prior, and then my biological parents wanted to keep us together, so my mom adopted me as well," said Amber Illescas, creator of E3AZ Foundation and foster mom.

Her childhood was tough, but in her heart, she always knew she would give back to foster kids when she grew up.

"First time we met I knew she had a great heart," said Marvin Illescas, Amber's husband.

[WATCH: Surprise woman gives foster kids teddy bears with messages of hope]

When she met her husband in 2004, she told him about her plan.

"I wanted to foster and hopefully adopt at some point, and he was like, 'That's not a bad idea,' ya know, so like, I knew then he was a keeper not everyone has that same kind of heart," said Amber.

Marriage, careers and two kids of their own later, the two were ready to start their own foster journey.

"If it were up to us, we like to take all the kids in the world, ya know, that need help," said Amber.

They took in their first foster child four years ago, and they've had seven total over the years, ranging in age from 2 weeks to 9 years old.

"Something you have to be is constant with the love you give them, the love and the patience. It's scary for them. They've just been taken away from their parents, and that is traumatic in itself," said Amber.

But they wanted to do even more.

"Basically, the mission is to encourage, to empower youth who have been impacted by foster care," said Amber.

Amber and her husband started a nonprofit called E3AZ Foundation. They hold workshops and free photos sessions for foster children. But one little thing they give out to every child is having a huge and positive impact on the kids. It's a teddy bear with special cards filled with positive messages the children can take with them and love.

"Little simple ways that will help that will really help make a difference in a kids life," said Amber.

If you would like to learn more about fostering an Arizona child or teen, call 877-543-7633 or visit Change2Lives.com. (Tap the phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.)

 


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