When children are pulled into the foster-care system, it can happen in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night, with police downstairs and a social worker telling the child to pack her belongings into a trash bag.
“You’ve got 10 minutes to pack your life away, and it’s not fair,” said Pat Moulder.
She and the Millville Volunteers wanted to make life easier for children as they enter the system. They recently collected more than 35 backpack care packages for local foster children, ages 10 to 15. A typical bag included toiletries, activity books, colored pencils, a novel, nail polish, socks and a water bottle. Each also included a warm fleece blanket to provide extra comfort during tough times.
The bags themselves are something nice that the kids can own and use, at school, the beach or just trekking around. Most importantly, it’s a step up from a trash or grocery bag.
They delivered the bags to the Edward W. Pyle State Service Center on June 26.
Summer has been busier than usual. In June, 130 Sussex County children and babies were living in foster homes, with 706 children in foster-care statewide, according to the Division of Family Services.
“We need families to be able to take these children,” Foster Care Supervisor Trudi Hudson said of the recent influx. The State tries to place children with their siblings and in same school district.
Some children need homes for a few weeks or months, until the parents are ready to be reunited or a child is ready for adoption. Either way, it’s a huge shake-up during an already challenging time in life.
This spring, the Millville Volunteers received cash donations to purchase bags. They also thanked the public for donating items at drop-boxes found at Millville Town Hall and other locations. May was National Foster Care Month. Anyone interested in donating can contact the Millville Volunteers through Millville Town Hall.
“I’d really like to keep the program going. … I’m on a campaign!” Moulder said. “We started small, and look what we got for ‘small!’”
“We have a lot of kids in foster care,” said Hudson. Luckily, “This kind of project has caught on with a lot of people.” Some groups are donating bags, while others are making fleece blankets.