Christmas Foster Kids Gift Project

Please join us in our effort to provide Christmas gifts for children in foster care in Newberry County!!  Lots of information is below, but we will need the things by December 14.  You may leave gifts you’d like to contribute at the Church.  Nance Bickford-Jordan and anyone who wants to help can assemble the packages.  If you prefer, you can contribute money for gift purchases or for gift cards.  The hope to be able to have a gift card with every backpack.  The foster care case workers will take the children to spend the cards.  If you wish, now is a good time to shop online because of Black Friday Sales!  If you have any questions Nance Bickford-Jordan can help with, please call or text her at (913) 461-7337.

Some Background:  For several years now, Clayton has contributed backpacks filled with gifts for foster kids (those who are not in their homes for whatever reasons).  Newberry County has a LOT of children in foster care.

Foster kids are often in shelters.  They are often taken out of their homes with just the clothes (or pajamas) on their backs, sometimes without even shoes.  The DSS workers keep donated (usually used) clothes that may or may not fit!

Why backpacks?  I worked on a project evaluation where we saw children in a shelter who had been given some clothes (as they had come with none) and carried them with them in plastic garbage bags – both had been given by the shelter.  I feel that the backpack is their own territory, something where they can protect things that are special to them.   DSS workers said that they are a good idea because the kids often have to move around and one even called it “Brilliant”!  Note too that gifts cannot be wrapped – only put in bags.  They can be put in backpacks (which can in turn be put into big bags to dress them up or just add decorative labels with the name of the child.

There was a news article last year about a little girl who came to a foster situation from a shelter and who slept with her backpack.  I wondered if it was one that we had given her previously.   I bought 10 on the Black Friday sales for $5 each so we now have a total of 13 so far.

This year, I interviewed Beth Murray at DSS.  She said that most churches want to get things for the little children but that the teens are left out.   Some of these teens are developmentally disabled and so have a mental age that is younger.  I think their definition of teenager is over 10 years.  There are about 50 in this category in Newberry County.   She said that teens represent a particular need so I said we would focus on some teens.

Beth said that bead jewelry kits are popular with many girls because they can make friendship bracelets to remember friends when they are moved around.  She said that things that they can decorate backpacks with are also popular and good therapy for them as they can individualize them.  They need clothes but I wouldn’t even try that — it is easier to give them gift cards to Walmart.  DSS workers will take them on a supervised shopping trip after Christmas and so that they can buy their own clothes or shoes.

Otherwise, little things that you think of and are appropriate are welcomed.  The primary rule is that no used things are accepted for Christmas gifts (although DSS accepts them for their backup supplies).

Thanks in advance – I know it will go well.  We are small but mighty!

Nance Bickford-Jordan