First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney says she isn’t a ‘craftsy’ sort of person. But for the third year in a row she has added her artistic flair to fleece blankets designed for children entering the foster care system at the Kind to Kids Foundation’s “My Blue Duffel” event on Sunday.
“Fortunately, I’ve done this a few times now. So, I knew what I was doing — I didn’t make any mistakes,” said Carney as she wrapped up her afternoon of service at University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center. “Other people were chatting while they were doing it. But Trenee Parker (director, Division of Family Services) and I were very focused on making our knots,” she said.
Quillen Carney was honored by the organization last June for her years of service to the organization and her strong commitment to the children she has mentored there.
Kind to Kids offers educational programs and a range of support services to the 750 children in Delaware’s foster care system.
The nonprofit’s annual My Blue Duffel event, which fills the Blue Hen arena in Newark, serves dual purposes. For a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, volunteer groups turn out to assemble hundreds of emergency care kits, which will be distributed to police departments across the state and provided to kids at the very moment they transition into foster care.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer was one of the hundreds who pitched in to help. “Kind to Kids is like the soul of our state, the conscience of our state, they’re looking out for abused neglected abandoned kids,” he said.
Filled with children’s books, crayons and coloring books, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a stuffed teddy bear, and a fluffy blanket, the bright blue duffel bags are a far cry from the empty black garbage bags police typically would offer to young children, who are often roused in the middle of the night and asked to pack up their belongs and leave their home.
The event is also community-wide effort that brings many groups together to rally around a cause that supports children.
The University of Delaware Men’s Tennis Team, My Sister’s Keeper, Stage Stars Dance and Acro (a dance group at the HAC), high schoolers from the Delaware Youth Leadership Network, co-workers from Incyte, line cooks from the Platinum Dining Group, members of the Junior League of Wilmington, sorority chapter alums, and members of UD’s Programming Board – some of the many groups that turned out to help. Registration fees help cover the cost of the many items stuffed into the duffle bags.
Quillen Carney is optimistic about the organization’s long-term impact.
“This is something we can do in Delaware. Our numbers are such that we can do a lot for our foster kids, all of them. Improve the high school graduation rate, give them support when they’re in the colleges in our state, work toward permanency — we can do all that for the seven-hundred plus foster kids in Delaware.”
Meyer said he’s impressed that a small idea that started organically 10 years ago has gained so much traction and success. Referring to Kind to Kids Executive Director Caroline Jones and her family he said, “A single family has brought together really thousands of people and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the least among us — for kids who are desperately in need of help and some love.”