TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM
Care Bags Foundation – a legal, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization – creates and distributes fabric Care Bags filled with essential and comforting items for needy children ages baby-18 years. We fill over 100 Care Bags monthly at our Care Bags Foundation Headquarters in Iowa, and distribute Care Bags through children-service agencies and individuals across the US.
Care Bags are also hand-delivered by our international partners and friends to displaced, abused and disadvantaged kids worldwide. Care Bags Foundation is run entirely by volunteers. We have no paid staff, which means that all in-kind & monetary donations go directly back to helping us help kids in need.
We serve displaced, abused and disadvantaged children worldwide. It is our hope that a Care Bag can bring a little bit of joy and comfort into the life of a child.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA?
I was eleven years old on the day in January 2000 when my mom came home from a meeting and told me that people at her work were going to start collecting essentials (soaps, shampoo, etc.) to give to kids in foster care/crisis care situations. She explained that often these children have to leave their homes without any of their own belongings. I tried to put myself in their shoes and I started coming up with more and more ideas about ways we could help. I came up with the idea to create fabric Care Bags (bags they could keep and call their own) filled with essential, safe, fun, and age-appropriate items for foster care/crisis care children in our community of Newton, Iowa.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FIND?
I remember once sending Care Bags to an orphanage in Africa. After receiving the bags they sent beautiful pictures as a thank you. In one of the pictures they showed a group of kids who looked sad. On the back it said, “These were the kids who did not receive your Care Bags”. I was absolutely crushed. However, it was a great lesson to me that I couldn’t help everyone, but I could make a small difference, one Care Bag, one child at a time.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR IMPACT?
Because we never get to meet most of the kids who receive Care Bags, we measure our impact based upon feedback from distributors. Our “Quotes” page on our website has some great responses from kids, families, and distributors.
HOW HAS IT GROWN?
We were (and continue to be) incredibly blessed with amazing support from our community and our supporters. Thanks to the help of my incredible mom, countless volunteers, distributors, and supporters, Care Bags quickly grew bigger and better than I EVER DREAMED POSSIBLE. We continue to send bags locally, but we have expanded to serve children worldwide. With the kindness and generosity of countless volunteers, distributors, and supporters, we have been able to provide Care Bags to over 25,000 displaced, abused, and disadvantaged children worldwide. We also have hundreds of groups that have (with the help of a Care Bags starter kit) started their own projects to serve kids in their communities.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEXT?
We are currently looking to expand our network of distributors. We know there is so much need in our world, we just need to make the right connections to get even more bags into the hands of kids.
It is our goal to help as many kids in need as we can, for as long as we can, and to encourage others to do the same.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF HELPING OTHERS?
I have had the immeasurable joy of growing up alongside Care bags. From elementary school to teaching school, my passion for serving kids has only continued to grow. One of my greatest joys in my role as a teacher is getting to include my students in giving back to our community. It is one of the best things to get to see young students becoming passionate about volunteering. Kids can make a difference in our world, and I love seeing how Care Bags makes giving back so accessible to people of all ages.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO OTHER KIDS WHO WANT TO DO SOMETHIING GOOD?
Over the years, I have had the joy of sharing my story of Care Bags with many groups across the United states. I love getting to encourage kids and adults to dream big, join together, and take action. You never know when a small idea to help a couple of people will grow to become bigger and better than you ever dreamed.