4-H Club compiles bags for children placed in foster care
WORTHINGTON -- Foster children can be taken from their homes in the middle of the night and sent to live elsewhere with nothing but the clothes on their backs, lacking basic necessities such as toothbrushes and combs as well as beloved stuffed an...
WORTHINGTON -- Foster children can be taken from their homes in the middle of the night and sent to live elsewhere with nothing but the clothes on their backs, lacking basic necessities such as toothbrushes and combs as well as beloved stuffed animals and blankets.
When the Elk Tip Toppers heard about the problem, they raised funds and gathered donations to make 65 drawstring bags, filled with necessities and comfort items for kids being placed in foster care.
"We thought it was a really good idea," said Dana Kingery, 16, one of the 50 students involved in the project. "My grandma was an orphan, and in an orphanage they have to share everything. It's really special when you have something of your own."
Usually, Social Services places kids with family members if possible, before turning to foster parents.
Foster families can be called upon to take babies at short notice and without being given diapers or bottles. They can be called on to take children from houses contaminated by meth-making chemicals, who can take nothing with them and have to be bathed repeatedly for decontamination.
The idea for the drawstring bags came from Kevin and Stacey Turner, who have cared for about 17 foster children over four years and know first-hand how difficult it is for children and the caregivers who want to help.
"It was something that would benefit a lot of kids, something for them to have -- kind of a comfort thing, almost," said Megan Prins, the Elk Tip Toppers club leader.
Over the winter, the Elk Tip Toppers gathered money and donated items. They received an Operation Roundup grant from Nobles County Electric. From Wal-Mart, they got socks, underwear and money. Fareway, HyVee and Walgreens all made donations, as did Burger King and Subway. 4-H families and friends donated toys and items, too.
All in all, the 4-H'ers had about $875 to spend on the project. They made 10 bags for babies, and put in diapers and bottles. The other bags were made for a variety of age groups, and included stuffed animals, coloring books, night lights, books, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs and brushes. Blankets made by another group will be added to the bags later.
Because the Elk Tip Toppers didn't want to spend all the money they had on purchasing backpacks, they sewed drawstring bags instead. In the end, the drawstrings for the bags were the only things the Elk Tip Toppers had to buy for the project that hadn't been donated.
"Hopefully, since they see what good 4-H is doing, people will join 4-H," said Ben Doeden, 14, an Elk Tip Topper. "I think it will make a difference."