Imagine you are a child who has been beaten, abused or neglected and needs to be removed from your own home. To make things worse, your belongings are placed in a trash bag to take with you as you enter Delaware’s foster care system.
The emotional impact on these vulnerable children can be profound.
My Blue Duffle helps children entering foster care
Since their founding in 2011, Kind to Kids Foundation has stepped in to help ease the pain of this difficult transition by hosting a My Blue Duffle Community Service Day. Sunday’s event at the University of Delaware Bob Carpenter Center drew more than 100 volunteers – families, friends, colleagues and teammates – who made blankets and filled bright blue duffle bags with supplies that will bring comfort to young children during one of life’s toughest moments.
“I think it’s a great program because foster kids deserve the same opportunities we do,” said Helena Somerday, a student at Middletown High School. She and eight other National Honor Society students at Middletown traveled up to Newark to help. Pointing to a young child at the event with face paint who was cuddling a teddy bear, one of Somerday’s classmates remarked, “Every kid deserves to be that happy at least once in their lives.”
No-sew blankets and emergency care kits for kids
Dozens of blanket-making tables and piles of supplies like books, socks, crayons and stuffed teddy bears filled the university’s basketball arena. After adding their own personal touch to hand-crafted fleece blankets, volunteers wrote personal notes for each foster child, then lined up at staging areas to fill the duffles.
More than 450 duffles from Sunday’s effort will be delivered to Delaware’s Department of Family Services, police stations and emergency rooms – anywhere professionals will first come into contact with foster children.
Businesses, teams, families chip in
Teams from Nemours, the Platinum Dining Group, Discover Card, the Give Back Foundation, Charter School of Wilmington, I Am My Sister’s Keeper as well as other organizations and businesses all pitched in on Sunday.
Scott Battaglia has been volunteering with Kind to Kids since he was in high school at Tatnall School. Now 22 and a member of the men’s tennis team at St. Joseph’s University, Battaglia brought all of his teammates as well as members of the women’s team to help out on Sunday. “We all realize how fortunate we all are to be in college. And some kids just don’t have the opportunities we do. So any time we can help out, it really makes a difference. We love doing community service — that’s part of our mantra at St. Joe’s,” he said. “And my teammates really love coming down here to make those blankets!”
The original Phillie Phanatic Dave Raymond and his family were also on hand. His father’s nonprofit – the Tubby Raymond Foundation, which helps at-risk children in Delaware – donates to Kind to Kids every year. “This is the quintessential opportunity to get involved and do something that’s good,” said Raymond. “It makes us all feel good that we’re helping kids that face so much trauma in their lives.”
Rosemary Brooks awarded for service
At Sunday’s event volunteer Rosemary Brooks received an award in “appreciation of 10 years of service bringing joy to children in need.”
Lisa and Carl Georigi of the Platinum Dining Group have been involved with the program since its inception and each year look forward to the special day. Lisa remarked, “I’m amazed and incredibly pleased at how this event has grown. It’s a testament to the incredible work Kind to Kids does that so many people come out to support this amazing organization.”