As the summer comes to a close a sense of excitement fills the air for many school children. But for some families who are caregivers to foster children, it's hard to come up with the money to get their school-aged foster kids ready to learn."
"When back to school comes around and all their friends are getting new clothes, it can be quite a burden for foster families to provide new things for these kids," said Supply and First Day of School Outfit Drive Coordinator Shawn McCracken.
So Homes of Hope, a local organization that helps area foster families and foster children, decided to start a Supply and First Day of School Outfit drive a couple of years back.
Homes of Hope Director Angie Derting said in the eight counties that Homes of Hope serves, there are 130 children in foster care. About two-thirds of those children are school-age kids who need supplies.
"For our drive, for our back-to-school drive we have 84 children that we are purchasing supplies, backpacks and their first day outfit for," said Derting.
Derting said local churches and businesses are currently collecting donations to fill the 84 backpacks they need. However she said in years past they've rarely ever met their goal.
"We try and get the kids a shirt, a new pair of pants, shoes, underwear and socks," said McCracken. "We also try to get a backpack for them with the school supplies that they need."
Foster Adoptive Mother and Homes of Hope Volunteer Debbie Kolstad said she understands the difficulty that foster parents face. She said sometimes they get calls from social workers asking them to pick up the children immediately.
"Some of these kids don't come with any of that," said Kolstad. "I got my middle child in February and he came with shorts and short sleeved t-shirt on and that's all we got with him."
But McCracken said the hours collecting money and supplies are all worth it in the end.
"Last year, I was able to run into a little girl that I had helped pack her backpack," said McCracken. "And on her face, the first day of school she was walking in and she's a girl that's very sweet but I don't get to see her smile very often. And she had her little outfit on and a big smile."
McCracken said they'll take donations until August sixth.
If you'd like to volunteer to help organize the donations or bring some items to a local business or church, go to homesofhopeproject.org.