The article below recently appeared in the newspaper for a project I began:
November 19th was a great day for former foster child turned author and activist Larry Adams of North Dakota.
It was also a tremendous day for local youth that unfortunately may need to enter foster care.
It was the culmination of the first drive to collect and package merchandise to be distributed to youth going into care was held.
“It was the start of the project I have been working on to get started for the past several months titled “Dignity and Hope Project”,” said Adams. “Funding was received to purchase 200, 30″ nylon duffel bags as youth prefer these over suitcases.”
These bags will be able to hold a large quantity of personal property of youth entering care, said Adams.
“Funding was further received to purchase material to make “tie blankets” or buy “quilt blankets” to go into each of the bags,” stated Adams. “Based on the type and style of the blankets determined if each bag was for a young girl or boy or an older boy or girl and each bag was marked accordingly.”
In each bag, in addition to the blanket, was packed with new soap, toothpaste/toothbrush, deodorant, comb or hairbrush, pencils, pens, a book, crayons, and coloring books for younger youth as well as stuffed animals for younger children, notepads, lotions, mirrors for older girls as well as some costume jewelry which was received from a variety of donors including a collection conducted by the local high school.
“The bags will be distributed in the next few weeks to the local Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) offices as well as Lutheran Family & Children Services to give to each youth upon their entering the foster care system,” Adams explained. “We hope each youth will feel a sense of dignity and hope receiving the bags and realize someone cares about them.”
Photo of youth making “tie Blankets”, photo is blurry to protect the identity of foster youth who had volunteered
Adams spent his entire youth in foster care experiencing 14 moves by the age of eleven. At age eleven he was sent to the famed “Boys Town” in Nebraska where he remained until he aged out at eighteen and graduated from Boys Town High School. Each time he was moved his property packed in brown paper grocery bags. Adams, said he knows what it feels like to pack your belongings in a paper bag or the plastic garbage bags used for many years. He said he always felt degraded, humiliated and as a second class citizen.
Adams, said those participating in the project had only expected the local group of Jim Casey Youth Leadership to assist in the packaging (12-15 youth) but was surprised when the local high school Honor Society also showed up to assist.
“This group also agreed to spearhead a collection drive at their high school some time in the spring for future “love packs” for foster youth,” said Adams. “What was expected to be a three-hour packaging time turned out to last only an hour due to the high number of volunteers assisting us.”
A pizza lunch at a local pizzeria was held for all those who assisted when the job was complete which was greatly appreciated by all, said Adams.
“This will be an on-going project since unfortunately there are always youth entering care and it is hoped we will be able to expand to other areas of the state as time marches on,” he said. “All in all it was a great day and I am so happy to see the project near and dear to my heart get off the ground with such success.”
Adams, author of Lost Son? A Bastard Child”s Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery, and Healing, said it humbled him to see the number of people willing to assist by donating funds, merchandise, or in packaging.