Kelly Hughes, founder of the Pgh Momtourage, knows the scramble that foster parents go through when a caseworker shows up on their doorstep with children who need a home.
Hughes, who has fostered seven children, also knows how hard it is on the kids to move from house to house–often carrying with them their meager belongings hastily stuffed into trash bags.
So Hughes has started what she is calling her “give back project” to help foster children and raise awareness about the challenges they face daily.
The Foster Love Project runs now through Dec. 21 and focuses on creating “placement bags” for hundreds of foster children in Allegheny County. The bags – ideally a duffel bag – are filled with a blanket, stuffed animal, pajamas, toothbrush and toothpaste, children’s bath soap and a book.
“Often the foster families don’t get much notice that they will be receiving children and the kids are given just minutes to throw a few things together–usually into a trash bag. What kind of message does this send to these kids? They are not disposable,” says Hughes, of Pittsburgh.
Hughes has partnered with the Bair Foundation as well as other local churches and organizations to serve as drop-off points to collect the bags.
Since announcing her project last week, Hughes says she has had more than 300 people commit to buy items for the placement bags. Once they are collected, the bags will be distributed to the Bair Foundation and other local foster agencies.
Hughes says the bags will be housed at these agencies so a caseworker can grab a bag with the appropriate size and gender for a child they are preparing to place in foster care. They are also accepting donations of diapers and gift cards to help foster families during these times of transition.
Donations can be left at any of the following locations:
ESSpa Kozmetica, 17 Brilliant Ave., Aspinwall, 412-782-3888
Three Rivers Grace Church, 1028 Chartiers Ave., West End, 412-450-0733 (an appointment is required to drop off donations here).
The Bair Foundation, 3755 Library Road, Suite 3, Castle Shannon, 412-341-6850
Ridgewood Church, 131 Ridgewood Ave., West View, 412-931-1313
Subway Restaurant, 20510 Rt. 19, Cranberry, 412-585-0942
Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, 5401 Centre Avenue, East End, 412-682-4430
“I’m hoping these bags and the items inside of them will be a source of comfort for kids in transition. A reminder that we care about them and that they are not forgotten no matter where their lives take them,” says Hughes.
For more information, visit the Pgh Momtourage Foster Love Project Facebook page or follow the hashtag #fosterloveproject.