The goal of That's My Bag is to develop and implement a project that will provide 350 children in Benton and Washington County who are removed from their homes or enter the foster care system with a suitcase that includes clothes for one week, under-garments, socks, personal hygiene items, books, stuffed animals and toys. Community partners include Wal-Mart Foundation, Washington County and Benton County Juvenile Courts.
Hundreds of children are removed from their homes each year in Washington and Benton counties because of neglect or abuse. These children are placed in foster care by the Department of Health and Human Services. Often times, these children aren’t able to bring many, if any, personal items with them.
The Junior League of Northwest Arkansas saw an opportunity several years ago to help ease this scary transition for the children. Members developed That’s My Bag to provide 350 displaced children with a backpack filled with clothes, undergarments, socks, pajamas, personal hygiene items, books, toys and other items as needed. That's My Bag gives these children not only the essentials, but also a piece of comfort in a place that is foreign to them. The Junior League provides both counties a continuous stock of bags and items to meet the need as the children enter foster care.
“You can’t imagine the impact that something as small as a new backpack full of clothes, toiletries and a toy can have on a child that has been removed from an abusive home,” said Eileen Jennings, board member. “We are helping remove some of the barriers that child faces against developing their potential and breaking the cycle of domestic violence.”
In October alone, That’s My Bag provided hundreds of bags filled with stuffed animals, blankets, books and school supplies that were delivered to the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to DHS, the Junior League distributed bags to area shelters and nonprofit agencies.
You can help by donating new toiletry items, stuffed animals, books, bags and basic clothing. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“We want all children entering foster care to be able to take with them something of their very own,” says previous chair, Melissa Pitts. “A new stuffed animal and personal items are just a small way to ease the unknown of their situation. Every child should be able to say, ‘that's my bag.”