DUFFIELD — More than 30 backpacks last week were filled with comfort items by Southwest Virginia foster children, teens and volunteers from the area’s VALUES foster child program serving Wise, Lee and Scott counties.
The VALUES Backpack Program was created so children in foster home situations could be part of helping others, said VALUES Director Jon Holmes.
“Children are removed in the middle of the night and their favorite stuffed animal may be left behind. We wanted to give them one,” he said. “We wanted the children to have (something) to read while traveling to a new foster home and a blanket to comfort them while they wait.”
Youths participating in the recent backpack stuffing are familiar with what it’s like to leave a home at the spur of a moment, many carrying their belongings in trash bags when removed for abuse or neglect.
“They rarely have the things they need that first night in emergency foster homes. That’s why our VALUES children volunteered. They wanted other children coming into care to have the items they needed themselves. It’s a way for them to give back,” Holmes said.
This is a continuing project, so the VALUES staff and youth in foster care continue to ask for donations of new or gently used backpacks, stuffed animals, books, blankets and new or unused school supplies.
The donated items are combined with a set of new pajamas and school or other supplies and given to children as they enter foster care, even in the middle of the night or during a holiday.
Holmes said the program needs at least 20 more backpacks and blankets to complete the supplies they have and plan to assemble the next distribution on Dec. 20.
Besides backpacks, the program will gladly take duffel bags or overnight bags. Blankets should be small enough to fit in a backpack or tote bag.
For the Dec. 20 distribution, please drop off backpacks, duffels or other bags at the VALUES office at Addington Hall in Duffield, or call (888) 443-1804 for other options.
VALUES Therapeutic Foster Care, licensed through the Virginia Department of Social Services, works with children from Lee, Wise and Scott counties and the city of Norton from birth to age 21.
Children are placed with foster care families within their communities. The goal of VALUES is to help children reunite with their biological parents if possible or move into adoptive homes.
To become a foster parent for VALUES Foster Care, or for more information about therapeutic foster care and/or how to join the team, contact the VALUES staff at (888) 443-1804.