The Bags4Kids Foundation collects donations to support the mental well-being and comfort of children during stressful transitions from police stations, children’s services offices and Foster care agencies. The idea for our organization began when we saw how sad it was for displaced children to arrive with nothing, having left everything they knew and loved behind. Initially, bags4kids filled 11 backpacks and took them to local police stations. They were a big hit with the children, and now we have filled and delivered over 8,000 backpacks and diaper bags. We give these bags to children who have no toothbrush, no toys, and no blankets, or any other items to treasure and call their own.
Bags4Kids - California City, California, United States
Over the years of watching children go through the system with nothing belonging to them, one memory is especially clear, that of a boy who arrived at our front door with one piece of paper in his hand. He held it up in the air and yelled "Mommy, mommy, look what I made you!” He was five years old, and he had drawn a picture at the police station. That single piece of paper was the only belonging he had. It warmed our hearts to be able to give him a whole tablet of paper, a stuffed animal, a toy and many more things to comfort and entertain him during the difficult transitional time.
After seeing the impact of our first 11 backpacks, we knew helping children this way was important work that we wanted to continue. We knew that if more people heard the touching stories of these children’s lives, they would want to help, so we got the media involved. We told about how and why the children were taken from their homes, and the community was amazed by these stories and reached out to help.
The first part of our plan was to spread the word about our project to get people interested in helping. So Bags4kids got the news stations and newspapers involved, contacted schools and churches to ask for help, and informed local kids’ clubs of volunteer opportunities that we had. Next we started our website and developed a presence on Facebook to share our story. Through these methods, we raised public awareness of our cause, and were able to solicit donations to continue filling bags for displaced children.
We feel that the best evaluation of our program is the fact that we are receiving numerous requests weekly, and because of our hard work and the donations we receive, we are able to fill the requests and send bags with essential items to children who need them. We are proud to say that over 8000 bags have been delivered so far. We get letters from police stations with stories of who got our bags and why. We get notes from kids who have helped us help other kids and how much joy and pride they took in filling the bags for us. Bags4kids works with 69 different agencies and delivers soon after their request is made.
Bags4kids has a large building in which volunteers come regularly to bring, sort and fill the bags. Bags4kids relies on people in the community for the donated items and what doesn't come in from them is bought by bags4kids. We have helped over 8,000 kids, given out over 400 prom dresses, delivered formula and diapers and baby food to single moms, helped with school supplies at back-to-school time, and toys during the holidays.
Police stations and shelters know they can make a call to our group and receive a wide variety of supplies for children in need, including bags with toys and essentials, formula, diapers, baby food, or even prom dresses. These agencies’ then can help these children and families in other ways and not have to stress about these items. They also get to hand the child his or her new bag and see what a difference it makes to a child who has nothing.
Bags4Kids Website: http://bags4kids.org/