PARKERSBURG - Officials are asking residents to help area foster children this holiday season by donating luggage and transitional supplies.
The Carry On Campaign was announced Monday by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, along with representatives from Mission West Virginia Inc. and the West Virginia Children's Home Society.
"Often a child who is in foster care, all they have to put their belongings into is a garbage bag," Goodwin said. "That is unacceptable."
Photo by Michael Erb
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, left, and Carrie Dawson, right, public relations director for Mission West Virginia, announce the Carry On Campaign Monday at the Arthur N. Gustke Child Shelter in Parkersburg.
The Carry On Campaign began in October 2010 as 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 campaign is designed to support 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 collected on behalf of the campaign include new and gently used luggage, duffel bags and essential personal care items.
Having new or gently used luggage available allows children suddenly thrown into foster care to retain a sense of normalcy.
"There is a sense of pride in that," said Carrie Dawson, public relations director for Mission West Virginia. The bags are filled with items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, snacks, hair brush or comb, books, a journal, crayons, a blanket, disposable camera, flashlight, toiletries, coloring books and a stuffed animal.
"We don't put an age limit on these, because even a teenager needs to hug a teddy bear sometimes," Dawson said.
Goodwin said officials are trying to bring attention to the campaign during the holiday season to ask people to donate during a particularly tough time for children in foster care. Goodwin said there are about 4,000 children in West Virginia in foster care.
Donated luggage, bags, supplies and monetary donations can be dropped off at the West Virginia Children's Home Society center, the Arthur N. Gustke Child Shelter, at 1739 St. Marys Ave. in Parkersburg. Donors also can contact the shelter at 1-304-485-0650.
"We are so appreciative of the Carry On Campaign," said Shelley Plauche, regional director of the Children's Home Society of West Virginia.
Similar campaign announcements will be made throughout the week at distribution centers in Charleston, Beckley and Princeton.