Carry On Campaign aids foster children

PARKERSBURG – Children in foster care need something other than garbage bags to carry their possessions as they may go from place to place.

The Carry On Campaign is working to make sure they have things to call their own and are able to carry it around in a dignified way.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, and representatives from Mission West Virginia, the Children’s Home Society and the West Virginia Division of Corrections gathered Thursday at the Children’s Home Society on St. Marys Avenue in Parkersburg for the final stop of four regional events to help collect items for children transitioning into foster care.

The Carry On Campaign began in October 2010 and supports children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect by providing them with essential personal items upon their transition to the foster care system. Items sought for the Carry On Campaign include new and gently used luggage, duffle bags, stuffed animals, coloring books, journals, toothbrushes, toothpaste, as well as non-perishable snacks.

“No child should have to use a trash bag to transport their belongings,” Goodwin said. “That’s what was happening and that’s why the Carry On Campaign was formed a few years ago, to provide children with luggage and other items of comfort during a very difficult time. We’re asking all West Virginians, as you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday season, add a child in need to your list.”

More than 4,000 children are in the foster care system in West Virginia.

The campaign is a part of a collaborative, multi-agency partnership that includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Mission West Virginia, Inc., the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Institute and the West Virginia Drug Endangered Children Task Force.

The holidays are a good time for people to reflect on what they have and to focus on others, said Carrie Dawson, public relations director for Mission West Virginia.

“All too often as kids are removed from their family’s home to a foster placement, their stuff gets put into garbage bags,” Dawson said. “We are collecting luggage as all kids deserve to have luggage to put their stuff in.

“We are asking people to donate slightly used luggage and, if they can, to provide some items in that luggage, a toothbrush, toothpaste and more.”

Some local groups have put together gallon sized bags with a number of sundry items to donate to the campaign.

The campaign is ongoing and people can take advantage of Christmas sales and After-Christmas sales to collect necessary items.

These kind of things mean a lot to the kids this campaign helps, Dawson siad.

“By having their own toy or stuffed animal to hold onto during a difficult situation, it is empowering for children,” she said. “It shows the community cares about them as these items came from the community and that they are loved by others.”

People can make donations at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia at the Easton Center at 1717 St. Mary’s Ave.

People can also call 866-CALL-MWV and be directed to the drop sites in their communities.