Over 30 children an hour have to be rescued from situations of abuse and neglect in America. Taken from their homes I imagine them sitting or standing in the middle of a police station. Maybe they are given an old and particularly boring edition of Highlights magazine to read or maybe not. They are questioned by adults over and over again, but no stories, no hugs. What about the children raced from their homes in a natural disaster? What is it like for them sitting in a shelter and seeing their parents scared faces?
The My Stuff Bags Foundation anticipates those moments. They provide a bag with toiletries, a blanket, clothing items, toys, books, crayons, and school supplies for children in need. It is a way to give a hug to children who are scared and have been stripped of every comfort.
My Stuff Bags runs like a well-oiled machine. Within 30 seconds of walking in the front door I was whisked to the back to begin packing bags. A more experienced volunteer gave me a quick overview about what we were doing and then pushed me into the middle of an assembly line. Five minutes after stepping into the line my group had assembled 40 bags for young boys. My job was adding the puppet and wooden cars. The boy next to me added the plush horses and when his hand caught one just right the tiny horse would let out an audible “NEIGH!”.
When we final moved to making toiletry bags one of the volunteers looked up and said, “I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself.” She introduced herself and her son and another mother and her daughter. The children were home schooled so once a month their parents brought them to My Stuff Bags to do volunteer work. My opinion of home schooling got much better immediately.
We had a good time talking and laughing the rest of the morning as we assembled piles of bags. When I told them about my mission to complete 50 different volunteer jobs by the end of the year they started to plan events for me to participate in – you always meet the most helpful people volunteering (hmmm...).
The great thing about My Stuff Bags is if you can’t physically show up at their warehouse in Westlake Village, CA you can still volunteer. For example: one 81-year-old volunteer made blankets and mailed them in, knitting groups get together and make scarves and hats in bulk, and corporations donate overruns and irregular children’s items. Also if you ever go to hotels and are inundated with those free shampoos and soaps mail them to My Stuff Bags – click here for their mailing address.
I think the final word on this charity belongs to the individuals they have helped:
“I cannot even begin to explain how much your bags meant to the children. They would actually get tears in their eyes because they had a blanket, toy, toothbrush and toothpaste again. These children had lost EVERYTHING and your bags gave them something of their own again.” -Dr. Gina M. Pallotta volunteer during Katrina
“One ten year old boy told me he knew that the people who packed his bag with goodies are people that he may not ever know, but…these were people who love him.” - Anonymous