POINT PLEASANT — Volunteers throughout the county are supplying duffel bags and backpacks to children when entering the foster system as a way to provide comfort.
The volunteers are from the Mason County Prevention Coalition and LifeSpring Community Church.
Ronie Wheeler, the prevention coalition coordinator, recently picked up the Comfort Cases duffel bags, which were donated from the coalition. The bags and packs are being stored at the LifeSpring Community Church and will be delivered to the local DHHR office as needed.
Debi Cottrill, who is a volunteer with court appointed special advocates (CASA), said the bags will be taken with the child protective services (CPS) workers when removing children from dangerous situations. Cottrill said often times, children are removed from homes quickly and pack their few belongings in a trash bag. Wheeler and Cottrill said the duffel bags and backpacks provide comfort, self-worth and something personal for the children to hold on to as they go to a foster home.
“When they have a trash bag with their items in it, there’s no personal thing,” Wheeler said. “What we’re trying to do is personalize for them. They have their own backpack. They have their own bag that they can put their own stuff in.”
The backpacks have personal items for children — including a stuffed animal, blankets, hygiene items and age appropriate activities. Cottrill said the bags are practical and emotionally healthy for children.
“It helps them with their self worth,” Cottrill said. “When you are a child and you’re taken away from your family, I think you would naturally — along with the fear — feel doubt and all of that can contribute to a lower self concept.”
LifeSpring Pastor Jordan Decker said his church strives to make a positive impact on their community.
“We as a church have felt it important in our whole existence as the people of God to impact our whole community,” Decker said.
Wheeler said that people can help provide Comfort Cases to children by donating to the Mason County Prevention Coalition for foster children. Wheeler and Cottrill also said that people can volunteer with the coalition, foster care, respite care and CASA.
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.