week 46: this week i'm gonna... make a difference, one care bag at a time.
Can you imagine having to flee your home or foster home without any of your belongings - not even your toothbrush? This harrowing thought was the spark for 11-year-old Annie Wignall to start a project in January 2000.
Annie's mother is a child abuse prevention educator and had told Annie about the hardships that many children face, including leaving their homes abruptly with only the clothes on their backs. Annie decided she wanted to help and started coming up with ideas. Eventually, a plan was formed, and Annie and her mom contacted local businesses and child support agencies to see if they could help.
Annie started creating "care bags" for children - beautiful, fabric bags filled with both necessities (like soap and toothpaste) and fun items (like books and toys). She solicited donations of goods from her community and recruited volunteers to sew bags and help fill and distribute them. Over time, she watched her small project grow into an organization that was serving communities across the United States and eventually abroad. Care Bags Foundation has distributed to thousands of children around the world and has inspired and helped over 60 individuals and groups to create similar projects in their communities.
Annie has been recognized for her work and has been honored with many awards, including the National Seventeen/Cover Girl Volunteerism Award, Teen Magazine's "Top Teens Making a Difference," the Angel Soft Angels in Action Award, and the TOYA award (Ten Outstanding Young Americans). She now works at an elementary school in Pella, Iowa, where she involves students in her work - inspiring them to give back to their communities, encouraging them to "fill someone else's bucket," and engaging them in projects for Care Bags Foundation.
Annie states, "I love kids and wanted to do something to help make their lives better. The coolest part is that Care Bags and I have grown up together. I went from a child with an idea to a teacher hoping to inspire big dreams in my students. I know we can’t help everyone, but we can make a difference, one care bag, one child at a time."
Care Bags Foundation was founded by Annie Wignall Foskett in January 2000 when she was eleven years old. The organization started as a small home-based project to help a few local children in Iowa and has grown into a nationally-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides services to thousands of displaced, abused, and disadvantaged children worldwide. The organization has no paid staff and is completely run by volunteers.
Care Bags Foundation's mission is to create and distribute care bags filled with new, safe, and age appropriate items to children in need from babies to youth up to 18 years old. The bags are first created by hand (many are hand-sewn) and then filled with essentials, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, books, and toys, to name a few. Annie and her volunteers fill over 100 care bags each month in the Care Bags Headquarters in Newton, Iowa. Bags are then distributed through partner agencies and individuals across the United States and abroad to children in need.
Since inception, Care Bags Foundation has reached over 24,000 children worldwide. Last year, the organization celebrated its 15th anniversary with the following video:
Care bags make a powerful and lasting impact on the children who receive them. Angela Moon Lins-Eich, Care Bags distributor and Chief Executive Officer of Life Connections, has witnessed this impact firsthand, “For years I have partnered with Care Bags Foundation to deliver bags all over Iowa and beyond. The experience of a child opening their Care Bag would bring a tear to anyone’s eye. It is so important to acknowledge that the smallest gesture makes such a profound influence of kindness. The children cherish their bags.”
Placement in foster care can be a particularly difficult time for a child. A foster parent of a recent care bag recipient states, "My foster son got his bag and carried it with him everywhere he went. He even slept with it [the bag itself] at night."
Care Bags Foundation's goal is "to help as many kids in need as we can, for as long as we can, and to encourage others to do the same." Care bags not only impact the children who receive them, they inspire the children who create them. After taking a field trip to fill care bags, one second grader wrote, "I hope the six-year-old girl will love the care bag I packed for her. I hope it will fill her heart with joy....I am gonna make the world a better place."
She could not have said it better.
Notes for this week:
- World Kindness Day is November 13th, National Philanthropy Day is November 15th, and Global Children's Day is November 20th.
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor the creation of approximately 25 care bags.
- For more information regarding Care Bags Foundation, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Care Bags Foundation.