We want to share some honest news about our Love Them BACK Packs project with you. One of our mantras is to always be transparent and vulnerable with you, our fellow villagers. You will only continue to trust us if we are truly trustworthy; by being authentic and honest in everything we do.
It was our full intention to get the backpacks into the hands of foster children in Chester County. Our team worked diligently to make a connection with child youth services and worked every angle we could find. When it came time to make the packs in June, we still didn’t have a commitment from CYS to take them, but we really didn’t think that would be a problem (I mean who doesn’t want packs for kids, right?!) so we continued on schedule. We collected the makings of over 70 beautiful packs that day, made new friends and enjoyed another opportunity to be the Village for our neighbors – it was great!
In trying to get these packs in the hands of Chester County foster kids, we’ve seen first hand the challenges our brave neighbors in social services face. Our county departments have no storage, no time, no real system in place to accept our generosity. They’re overburdened with cases, with putting out fires, with serving the children and families of Chester County on the ground, every day. As much as they wanted these packs, it proved cumbersome. We tried every idea, every angle, every way we could think of to get these packs into the hands of Chester County kids (through CYS, through the county, through other organizations, through the foster parents themselves, through social workers, through magic…you get the jist), but after three months of trying, these packs weren’t doing anyone any good in the ITAV garage.
So, a huge thanks goes out to Taryn T. for connecting us to a wonderful gal, Jayne V. and her sister. Jayne works in Philadelphia among the city’s most challenged populations and often works with homeless families and children. Jayne most graciously accepted our back packs and promised to get them into the hands of children in need. She drove the long way to pick them up and this resourceful warrior personally delivered each and every one in one weekend. Read an excerpt from her note below:
“I just wanted to let [you] know that I ended up distributing the back packs to children of single parents or ones that are being raised by their grandparents. These are friends, neighbors or just strangers that live in low-income apartments. Also a group called single mothers helping single mothers. All backpacks were hand delivered, and to see the look on the children’s faces was well worth the trip out to pick them up from you. The children really loved the things they received in addition to the backpacks, and their “parent” couldn’t stop thanking me. I distributed them myself instead of giving to the company I work for , because by the time a representative of the children’s program at my company got back to me almost all backpacks were already distributed to the needy. Again I thank you for the opportunity to see the giant smiles on so many children’s faces.”
So listen villagers, although this wasn’t the exact destination we were aiming for, it’s an outcome that we’re thrilled with. We’re thankful the universe showed us where the ‘need’ was this year, and connected us to the Village Warriors able to get it done…because good things flow when we let go. We named the project Love Them BACK Packs and after reading Jayne’s story, it sure sounded like each one of those kids felt special and loved…and so we accomplished our goal.
We liked this project so much we’re going to do it again next year, and the next, and the next. When you’re a new organization on a learning curve, we get to learn from our mistakes and do better next time. So we hope you’ll participate again next year…and in the meantime we’ll continue to work on those process issues that prevented the packs from being used in foster care. Our goal next year will be to make twice as many packs and get them in twice as many deserving little hands as possible!!!