Personalized bags help comfort Rutherford County kids in foster care
In Rutherford County, there are 133 kids in the foster care systems and only 26 certified foster families.
"There is a need for foster families," Emily Wood, a foster parent, said.
Wood adopted her son through the Foster to Adopt program. She said many of the children going to and from foster homes only have a trash bag filled with their items.
"A lot of kids are leaving their homes with maybe nothing," Wood said.
That's why Wood and Lakin Stanfield are partnering with Least of These Carolina, an organization that supports foster children and families.
Their goal is to provide every child in the foster care system in Rutherford County with a "bag of hope," a personalized duffel bag filled with new items just for the child.
"They embroidered the kid's name on the front in their favorite color. The big goal of Least of These is just to make sure the kids feel really special in the midst of a crisis," Wood said.
Inside each bag are new clothes, toys, shows, and bath items. Books are also being added thanks to Lakin. She works at Usborne Books & More and is raising fund to include special stories inside each bag. So far she has raised over $3,500 for the books. Usborne is matching 50 percent of the donations and Lakin is donating her commission to help buy additional items for the bags.
"I already sell these books anyways and this is a way I can help and I think it's making a big impact and that feels really good," said Lakin.
The stories were hand picked by Lakin and are meant to comfort children during the difficult time.
For every $500 raised, Lakin and her husband have agreed to be pied in the face and if $10,000 is raised, she will shave her head. Both women hope the books and bags will help the children feel special and let them know they are loved.
"For them to feel like in the midst of this crisis and trauma they are loved by a community and people and just to feel like someone really thought of me in a tough time," Wood said. "It's comforting and healing."