Two Mason County High School students outlined for Maysville Rotary Club members a recent event they held to raise money for the Court Appointed Special Advocates foster care closet.
Alania Henderson and Jadyn Meadows, as part of their Family Career and Community Leaders of America project, took on the task of raising money, purchasing items and donating those items to the foster care closet.
She said they raised almost $1,300 through multiple efforts, including a dinner, auction and t-shirts.
On Tuesday, the girls discussed why they chose the project and the steps they took to complete it.
According to the girls, at one point there were 442,995 children in foster homes. In 2018, 8,000 children were placed in foster care in Kentucky alone.
“We are here to call attention to this ongoing issue that affects the children in our state and nation,” Meadows said.
The girls put together a five-step plan.
“Our main goal was to address the issues of foster care systems by educating and spreading awareness through information and facts,” Henderson said. “Foster care is a temporary service provided by the state for children who can’t live with their biological parents.”
The girls set a personal goal to research and present to community partners about the foster care system.
“Without the support of our FCCLA members, advisers, and those associated and individuals throughout Kentucky, we would not be able to diligently advocate for a topic such as foster care,” Henderson said.
The plan led the girls to CASA.
According to Henderson, the girls began by selling t-shirts to raise money. From that, they raised $557. They then held a dinner and quarter auction and raised another $795. The total raised was more than $1,300.
Meadows said they used the money to purchase items that were needed. The girls chose clothing and personal items because they discovered that a lot of foster children do not get to take their items with them when they are removed from their homes and when moved from one foster home to another.
The girls said that when they went to the foster care closet to donate the items, they were surprised by what they saw.
“We were really impressed with what they had,” Meadows said. “They had a lot, but you can never have enough.”
Henderson said something she has learned through the experience is to not take things for granted.
“I continue to tell myself is to not take everything I have for granted,” she said. “If I don’t use it, I’ll donate it to CASA, so the children in our community who need it can have it.”
CASA Director Shanda Meadows Hamilton gave an overview of the foster care closet.
According to Hamilton, the closet is open 24 hours a day for social service and CASA volunteers to utilize for a child who is being placed in foster care for the first time or being moved from one foster home to another.
The facility is located in the First Christian Church in Maysville.
“We ask for new items, because when kids are in this bad situation and they are removed by social services, it is usually in the middle of the night,” she said. “What we are finding out is parents are either not letting items come with them — so a lot of times teenagers are being removed and social services are scrambling to find a blanket to put around them and take them down to the First Christian Church. So, what they do, social services has 24 hour access to this facility. Or, because of environmental hazards, they can’t take anything out, because they can’t contaminate the house they are going to.”
Hamilton said there is a boys and a girls room in the closet for the children to pick out the clothes.
“We try to get them about four or five outfits to get them to their for now home — which is what we call it,” she said.