Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lions Packs Kick Off

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind....  It all started with a editorial in the Juneau Empire about the need for foster homes. 

Lots of Beany Babies!
And that's all it took.  From there we learned that often times children are taken into foster care with nothing but the clothes on their back or if they do have personal belongings, it's stuffed in a garbage bag.  No suitcase.  No backpack.  A garbage bag.... 

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't think about foster care or the children affected, but I suspect that's because it hasn't involved me.  I didn't know anyone in foster care, I didn't know any foster care families.... but for some reason, this article spoke to me.  What IF it was one of my grandchildren being taken into foster care, carrying their belongings around in a black garbage bag.  As if they have no value?? 

Long story short, we contacted Office of Children Services and our Lions Packs project started to take shape--providing a backpack to each child who enters the Foster Care Program.   

Future Leos donating to our cause!
We had our kickoff today.... We asked the community of Juneau and Douglas to help us make this backpack project a success.  We asked for new or gently-used backpacks, small toys, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, stuffed animals, blankies, etc.  We asked for items of necessity AND comfort, to help these children through the first 12/24 hours of this traumatic time of their lives. 

One of many piles we accumulated!
Because one backpack can't fit all age groups and gender.... we decided to have seven different categories:
     birth to 2 years (generic)
     3 years to 6 years (boy and girl)
     7 years to 11 years (boy and girl)
     12 years to 18 years (boy and girl)

This process has been quite the ride!  Caring people came out of the woodwork to donate.  Our local paper, the Juneau Empire, embraced this project and gave us incredible coverage; the Capital City Weekly "squished" our article in with only one day's notice.   Our granddaughter went through her stuffed animals to donate.  Other grandchildren chose our fundraiser over another traditional charity.  Family shipped items up from down south.  Neighbors went out of their way to get donations. One couple donated their collection of 75 Boyd Bears and another her Beany Baby collection.  Local dentists have pledged to keep us in toothbrushes and toothpaste.  The Moose Lodge will supply us with Tommy the Moose stuffed animal. The Nugget Mall made adjustments in an arts and crafts fair to accommodate our project.  And the list goes on.    

Lions Becky, Mike N. and Tommy filled carts.
The community REALLY cared about this project! 
I know you're wondering.... was it a success?  Absolutely!

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