(WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Imagine having to carry around your possessions in a garbage bag? It’s not a reality many people would want for themselves, but it is the reality for thousands of foster children throughout West Virginia and Ohio.
Last week 7News told you about Foster Hope Ohio Valley, a new organization that is working to help those children. WTRF has a way you can help too.
“A garbage bag is not a suitcase,” explained WTRF General Sales Manager Lauren Hersey.
Foster Hope Ohio Valley’s goal is to make sure instead of a garbage bag, children have something else to call their own.
“We have the mission to collect bags, donated backpacks and duffel bags and fill them with essential and comfort items that can be distributed to kids entering into foster care across the Ohio Valley,” said Amanda Hession, President of Foster Hope Ohio Valley.
Foster Hope Ohio Valley told 7News that more than 15,000 children are in foster care in Ohio. In the nine counties they would hope to help in this region there are about 470 children.
In West Virginia, nearly 7,000 children are in foster care. As of April of this year, around 360 of those children in foster care are from this area, including Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Wetzel, Marshall and Tyler Counties.
“These children are often times given ten minutes to put all of their most prized possessions into a garbage bag and go to the next family,” Hersey explained.
When WTRF read those numbers, we knew we had to help, and you can too.
“As a mom, this just it devastates me every time that I hear it, every time that I talk about it,” Hersey continued. “No child should have to go to a home with just a garbage bag.”
On Friday, June 14th you’ll be able to donate personal care items, comfort items like pillows and stuffed animals, backpacks and more so Foster Hope Ohio Valley can expand its reach and make sure more children have dignity, comfort, and something to call their own.
“Eventually we’d like to see us grow to even bigger and be able to provide for more kids in our for our community,” Hession said.
“To know that we could impact hundreds of children in these difficult situations is just so rewarding and we’re hoping that the community and local businesses will rally around us,” Hersey added.
Foster Hope Ohio Valley needs your help to fill these backpacks, so WTRF has partnered with the group as part of our Founder’s Day of Caring.
We will be collecting personal hygiene and comfort items June 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Reisbecks in Elm Grove and St. Clairsville.
You can also drop off items at our offices on 16th street.
The list of items needed includes:
- Small duffel bags, suitcases, diaper bags or backpacks
- Baby blankets
- Baby shampoo
- Baby body wash
- Baby lotion
- Diapers (all sizes)
- Baby wipes
- Diaper ointment/baby powder
- Baby bibs
- Baby washcloths
- Toddler safe stuffed animals / regular stuffed animals
- Board books
- Bottles/sippy cups
- Small blankets
- Toddler pillow with pillowcase (13×18) or normal pillow with pillowcase
- Toddler, youth and adult toothbrushes
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Soap or body wash
- Coloring book & crayons
- Sippy cups
- Photo Album
- Feminine hygiene products
- Journal, pens & pencils
All toiletries must be travel-sized and unopened.
Vagabond Kitchen is also helping us out. Chef Matt Welsch has prepared a special dish for us! It will be a coffee rubbed beef brisket with balsamic barbecue sauce, caramelized onions smothered in Havarti cheese on a toasted bun.
If you order it next Friday, June 14 from 10-2 a portion of the proceeds will go to Foster Hope Ohio Valley.
If you’d like to send items directly to Foster Hope Ohio Valley, you can visit their Amazon Wish List.
Find more information about the organization on its Facebook page.