Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Year Ago

The journey stated more than a year ago....  Let me start from the beginning.

On December 23, 2012, there was a "My Turn" article in our local newspaper, the Juneau Empire, written by Representative Les Gara expressing a need for foster homes.  It was a well-written article and one that caught my attention. But I wasn't interested in becoming a foster parent and the article was forgotten.  Fast forward to August 27, 2013, to an editorial in the Empire that also talked about the need for foster parents.  Still, I was not in a position to be a foster parent.
Our community drive where we collected backpacks and other items.
But in the editorial it was written that sometimes all the Office of Children Services (OCS) staff can come up with is a temporary home for the children who enter into the foster care program.  And often times they are bounced from foster home to foster home.  It also stated how harmful this was to the child. This made me sad.  But it also got me thinking.... what if this was my grandchild?  This was not acceptable!
Lion Tom Dawson taking donations from a lady
And the rest is history.  It's been just a year since the Juneau Mendenhall Flying Lions started the process that would eventually provide a backpack with a few items of necessity and comfort to each child who entered the foster care program.  On December 3, three of us delivered 95 backpacks and items of comfort and necessity to the Office of Children Services!  

Lions Packs was born!

Since then, we've been diligent about checking in with OCS to see what their needs might be.  When we were putting this program together, we didn't really know what to expect.... how many children would enter the program, what gender, what age, what items would give them the most comfort, etc.  And it's turned out that OCS has had some growing pains as well trying to figure this out.  
Some of the toys we received.
But I think we're finally on the same page and they are working hard at handing out the backpacks and the donations we provide.  
Every dentist donated toothpaste, brushes, and floss
Yes, it was a year ago that got me thinking.... not "could" we help these children but "how" could we help them.  Over this past year we have continued collecting books, making "tag" blankets, picking up items as they go on sale. We've had strangers ask us what we need for this year's collection drive. The other day OCS asked if we could help them service other towns in Southeast Alaska where the need is great.  Our answer was simple.  Yes.  

These children didn't ask to be taken out of their homes, but they were.  They weren't asked to leave their personal belongings behind.  They just did.  Yes, life can be unfair.... but it shouldn't be.  Our children are our legacy.  They deserve better.  They are the innocent in all this.  They deserve more.  
This what 95 backpacks look like!
I'd like to think our Lions Packs program brought a little comfort to each of their lives that moment they were taken into custody.  I'd like to think through our program that these children will know there are people who care what happens to them. I'd like to think our Lions Pack program made a difference.  

We will start this year's drive in a couple weeks.  We will ask the community for help once again.  I know they'll come through for us, again.  

If you're interested in started a program in your area, I'd be happy to talk to you about it.  

We Serve!
Lion Nancy

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