Sunday, November 6, 2011

National Adoption Awareness Month and Charity

When I was planning the kids school year this past Summer, one of my top priorities was to get them more experiences in hands-on charity work.  I decided that we would do something every week.  Since July, we have done something almost every week (you can see what we have done on the sidebar).  For the month of November we will be concentrating on adoption awareness.  Since two of our kids are adopted through our local foster care system, I thought something local would be good.  I remembered that there is an unattended clothing closet that is open 24 hours a day to foster and adoptive parents in need.  I also remembered that it was always a mess when I visited it a few times years ago.  We decided that we would "organize it" for the month of November.  However, what we found when we got there was worse than I had remembered.  Clothing is thrown into this approximately 10x15 foot shed, and to walk into it, you have to walk on a "floor" of clothes that are about two feet thick.  It looks like people who are donating just throw bags from the door, often bags of leftover yard sale items that have absolutely nothing to do with children.  The kids peeked in and wanted to run.  I must admit, I wanted to run, too.  However, I remember what it is like to get the call that a little one will be arriving in one hour and have nothing for them.  More than once I have gone running to a consignment shop with credit card in hand.  You would think that foster kids would arrive with a few basics, but they don't. Tom Sawyer arrived at two days of age with a diaper, one sock, a thin hospital blanket and one bottle of baby formula that he should have been fed hours before.  Goldilocks (20 months) arrived with the clothes on her back, a bag full of candy and, incredibly, DOG toys.  Another foster child (age 3), who lived with us for a short while, arrived so dirty that I stripped the adult clothes off of her on the back deck, washed her and squeezed her into one of my day care home kid's clothes before heading to a consignment shop.  I did not go to the clothing closet in these cases, because I knew it would be too hard to find anything.  NOW IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

These pictures are after three hours of work!

Can you even find both of my daughters in this mess?

My current goal for this shed is to make pathways, hang up as much as we can, clear out the trash and find the floor.  Yesterday, I dug deep in one spot so I could see what color the floor was painted (red)!  I have not tried to contact anyone to tell them what I am doing for several reasons.  For one, I don't want my kids to get lots of accolades for doing this bummer of a job.  We all have to do hard things without lots of compliments sometimes.  Also, I don't want to get wrapped up in someone else's red tape and opinions.  If they wanted it maintained, they could have done it themselves!  Really, I think that this shows how terribly overwhelmed and often overworked foster parents are.  Our society and social services should do a better job of supporting these people.  In our area, they are always advertising that they need foster parents.  While there are many who do not want to foster, they could do something else (like run a clothing closet). 

Disclaimer ~ The work is hard but the clothes are mostly clean, although often stained, and nothing is smelly.  I would not expect my children to work in poor health conditions.  However, they did sink into and get stuck in piles of clothing a few times.  We also need to watch out for broken glass.  Thanks, Mom, for helping on our most recent trip over there and for taking home some things to try to get out stains from special items.



  1. ((((Dawn)))) What a wonderful project! Wish I were closer to help. I think I church has some type of closet. I should check. Thanks for sharing this with us. What a wonderful thing to be doing!

  2. Oh how I wish I had your dedicated workers at our clothing closet. Truely it looks like this each month. We get so many donations. And it is very hard work to keep up with it!
    I was a foster child. Moved 13 times to 13 different homes from age 3 to 10. Never knew when social services would show up and say lets go...I was not allowed to pack anything! ( must be why I am a pack rat today!)

  3. What a wonderful service you and the children are providing. I would be so overwhelmed walking in there! How did Tom Sawyer do? I can't picture Jay handling it very well. I had to look hard to find Little Red Riding Hood in the one picture! I hope you'll post the "after" pictures.

    I have been reading your charities projects in your sidebar and have been getting all sorts of inspiration and good ideas. So, thank you!

  4. Wow, that is overwhelming. What a huge service you are doing for so many. My BFF fosters and has had similar situations where the child has nothing when they arrive. I know I've given her some bags of clothes for the foster system here, but I have no idea if they end up in a situation like you have shown. I'll have to ask. Might be something we can do here, too.

  5. Amazing. Your charity work, and your stories in general, remind me of one of my favorite children's books called Something Good. At least I think that's the name. Anyway, a child marvels that, though life is taking them through some serious trials, her dad always finds something good for the two of them--food, a bed, or even an unexpected small gift.

    I, like Leslie, wish I were closer to help. I actually love to do things like this. I don't know of any clothes closets here; I wonder if there is a way that we can get involved here. Hmmm...

    Thanks for the visit today. Proud of you!

  6. That is an awesome project for you and your kids to take on! I remember well those days of getting a new foster child and them not even having the clothes on their backs because they came in only underwear! Your work will be a blessing to those who come. Imagine how they will feel when they see that they are now able to find what they need to without feeling overwhelmed! This truly will bless them and the kids that they are caring for! Great job!!!