Advocate Wednesdays, Children in Foster Care, Foster Parenting, Journey BagsJan. 7, 2015

Advocate Wednesday: Why a Trash Bag?

My husband and I haven’t been foster parents very long; we received our license in August 2014. Our journey to obtain the license began in February of last year; when we attended 30 hours of required training to begin the process.

During our time in the training classes, we were told by our instructors that many times, a child will come into care with all of their belongings in a black garbage bag; this upset us both very much. It was even harder to watch the video “Removed”, the trash bag is shown as she moves from home to home, each time loading her belongings into the bag to move again. Then we had our own experience with a garbage bag when our first foster placement arrived with two garbage bags.

What goes into the bag? The two we received: one full of neatly folded clean clothes and the other full of toys. The problem was, the clothes didn’t fit and most of the toys were either broken or a mismatched set. If a child is able to fill a bag with items before leaving home, many times the clothes may not fit as was the case with our first placement. The clothes may be dirty, have holes, or may not be appropriate to be worn. And many times, the necessities are not included for the child to have a proper set of clothing and toiletries.

The case workers that have the hard, tiring job of removing these children to other homes use the bags because they are cheap, low cost, funding just isn’t there. They have to carry around something in the trunk of their car for this purpose and suitcases are not going to store well or take up too much space. Also the fact to grab a bag for the situation is quick and disposable for sanitary concerns.

Can you imagine what it must feel like to a child? Having all of the belongings they are able to take be thrown into a garbage bag and hauled off! Even if the items in the bag are great quality, clean, neat and beautiful having it treated as “trash” devalues anything in their eyes. What little they had from their original home is now viewed as “garbage”.

This became a “mission” to me. I felt God was calling me to do something about it. I began praying, researching, reading and learning about all the organizations out there that have the heart for the orphan, especially those in foster care. And I was led to The Forgotten Initiative. As an organization they have worked to soften the blow of the trash bags by offering the Journey Bag to social services organizations. These bags provide some of the basic necessities and in most cases a toy or activity, something that is new that the child can call their own.

Once I found The Forgotten Initiative and their Journey Bag project, I looked more and more into the work they are doing by equipping the local church to know how to serve the foster care community and be the hands and feet of Jesus, I knew I wanted to be a part of this great group and I became and advocate in September 2014. It has been a great experience thus far and I can’t wait to see where the Lord leads in 2015.

Can your church or organization fill some Journey Bags to help get rid of or supplement the trash bag?

Shannon Jerkins

Shannon Jerkins

Shannon has been married to Richard for 13 years, they live in beautiful West Jefferson NC. They have been blessed with 4 biological children and began their foster care journey in February 2014. Shannon's heart has been burdened for the forgotten children for over 7 years, and is excited to partner with TFI to bring awareness and help to the foster care system in the High Country.

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