A backpack of treasures for kids

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Waikato co-ordinator Mirjam Sole (left) and Waikato West social work resource assistant Lorraine Morgan with a new delivery of backpacks.  Photo / supplied
Waikato co-ordinator Mirjam Sole (left) and Waikato West social work resource assistant Lorraine Morgan with a new delivery of backpacks. Photo / supplied

Many Waikato children urgently brought into Child, Youth and Family care will no longer come empty-handed, thanks to the generosity of charity Foster Hope.

Originally known as Kits2kids, Foster Hope started in Auckland in 2010 and has spread to main centres throughout the country.

The group wants every child in care to know that their community cares about them, so they put together gender and age-specific backpacks for children taken in to care that contain the basics each age group needs.

Waikato Foster Hope coordinator Mirjam Sole first came across the organisation through friends in Auckland. She was immediately keen to be involved, so she started the Waikato branch at the start of last year.

Mirjam, her husband Jeff and friend Kellie Knight began fundraising and collecting the items for the backpacks.

"It's not that hard but it has such a huge effect," Mirjam said.

Toiletries, flannels, pyjamas - the list goes on depending on what has been donated. And there's usually a book and a toy in the backpack as well.

The backpacks, labelled with the age and gender they are for, and then taken to Child, Youth and Family, who distribute them to children coming into care, many of whom arrive at their new caregivers with just the clothes on their backs. There is a backpack for everyone from newborns to teenagers.

Child, Youth and Family Waikato West social worker Rhiannon White said the backpacks mean a lot to the children, many of whom have never had anything to themselves before.

"The five-year-old girl I gave one to loved it so much that she slept with the bag and her new belongings for over a month and every time she left the home with her caregiver she had to have her bag," said Rhiannon.

"The caregivers also found the bags really useful as they didn't have to rush out and buy essentials with distressed children in tow. They knew that they could get through with what was in the backpack for a few days without further distressing the children."

Foster Hope is having a packing day for volunteers to help pack the backpacks on May 22. Find out more about Foster Hope and how you can help young people in need at www.fosterhope.org.nz

- Hamilton News

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