Providing security and comfort to a child in crisis...
The idea came when one of our coordinators was tasked with picking up a group of 3 siblings from another state. There were 2 girls and 1 boy ranging in age from 3 - 13. She and her co-workers were to pick them up and bring them to their foster home in Georgia. As she didn't want to arrive empty handed and gift shops in the airport were the only places at her disposal to gather items for the children, she and her co-worker put together a book bag for each of them. When the children were dropped of at the airport by their case managers, they each had a black trash bag for their limited belongings...then it hit her! NO CHILD should have their belongings placed in a “trash bag”. After the youngest of the three was presented with her book bag filled with basic necessities, her eyes simply lite up! She was so excited to get her “own” bag and the cutest part of all; the bag was almost as big as she! Unfortunately, the same little one took ill and the flight to Georgia had to be postponed for a few days. They checked into a hotel to wait out the illness. The kids LOVED having something of their own! I wish you could have seen them packing their bags and proudly entering the plane with their book bags in tow! These three little blessings and this experience inspired the idea to begin this organization. Once she explained the vision to her husband and mom, it was a done deal…Adventure Bags began!
Tell me how Adventure Bags got started--who were the key players, what was the inspiration behind the project and when did things really get going?
Where is Adventure Bags based and what areas do you serve?
Actually Adventure Bags is “based” out of our new home just outside our Presidents back door! It is a grassroots organization and that means we aren't in this for the money! The idea is simply one of volunteers and donations! We keep overhead as low as possible in order to give more kids more bags! Afterall, it's all about them isn't it?
PLEASE NOTE: Although some of the volunteers work for DFCS, it is NOT a partnership with DFCS nor are we asking them to assist in any way. This is simply our own project for the children who enter Fostercare as they are the beneficiaries of the organization. Adventure Bags is not affiliated with the Department.
Are there any stories or kids that you've helped that really stand out in your mind?
We recently had the opportunity to speak with some Foster children at an event. They told us how much it would mean to have something of their own. They really liked that there are journals in the age appropriate bags on which they can write their thoughts, frustrations, dreams, and goals.
Of course the true story above which started it all, is decidedly the most memorable and impactful!
How do you get the supplies for the bags?
We get the majority of our donations from individuals and businesses? We take donations from anyone who will send them our way but we do however need to stick to the “Wish List” and can only accept items which are new and unopened! We LOVE to partner with local businesses for ongoing donations or fundraising events! Book and diaper bags are our biggest and most ongoing need! If you or someone you know travels a good bit and collects hotel products, if they are unused and unopened, they are great too! We always need something so, if you want to donate, we'll take it!
How can people get involved? Do you have a lot of volunteers?
People can get involved by simply donating what they can from the wish list! We are growing by leaps and bounds so we are always looking for ways to raise money and awareness. We are especially trying to retain more community partners in order to meet the growing need! Volunteers for stuffing bags is always welcome too!
What is your ultimate goal of the project, and what are the future plans for Adventure Bags?
The ultimate goal is for each child who faces a crisis to have a bag of their “own”. This bag can be used for not only as an overnight bag but as a daily book bag. We would love to serve ALL counties across the state and have a system in place where the counties would request items for the bags as they get low.
Adventure Bags, Inc. also serves those agencies which assist ANY displaced child who may be in need. This may include Domestic Violence Shelters, Homeless Shelters, and even some Teen Shelters across the state.
What's the most rewarding part of this for you?
Helping a child who has otherwise been involved with some very unfortunate situations and knowing that you may have made a child …. “feel a little more secure” in their new surroundings.
How is this different from “suitcase drives" or a Simple Backpack?
The Difference between this versus a Suitcase drive is that the "Adventure Bags" are designed to be child age and gender specific. Each child upon entry in crisis will receive their very own book bag (not suitcase - less discrete) which will have the "overnight" essentials we often times take for granted. Each bag is filled with the items they need during their first night in care (i.e toothbrush/tooth paste/brush/journal, etc) as well as some comfort items and always a stuffed animal!
Think of it this way, how would you feel if your were taken out of your home and did not have your "favorite brush, your own underwear, socks, etc”? Often times we have children who come in with nothing and we have to search for these basic items for them.
Where can I find more information on how to hold my own drive or donate items?
Or simply call us 678-425-0316 to learn more!
The book bags can also be used when they begin school! Dual purpose! When we gave those children at the airport their own book bag with crayons, a journal for oldest one, water bottles, etc., they walked a little prouder than they did when we got them on the side of the terminal with their big black trash bags! Then throughout the trip, they made comments like "I am gonna put that in my book bag!" as they smiled! We can't give them much BUT at least they get something that will hopefully let them know we do care!