Both social workers and foster parents have shared with us heart warming stories of children's reaction to receiving a Bag of Love. We want to pass them on to you to help give a better understanding of the impact each Bag has. If you are a foster parent or social worker and want to share your story, please call or send us an email and we will post it here!
My name is Christine and I am a Child Protection investigator in Edmonton, this means I am the social worker who brings children into the care. I have been working with the Bags of Love Program for the past three years and I would like to share my appreciation to all the volunteers and quilters who create the bags that are so very special to the children and teens I work with. When I bring a child into care this is a very scary and uncertain time for the kids, sometimes we have to wait in my office for a few hours until I am able to find a foster or group home. My practice is to select a bag that I feel is suited to that child and they take it with them to the new home.
Some of my experiences bringing kids into care over the years have been quite sad and I have been thankful that I am able to provide the kids with some form of tangible comfort during these life changing and traumatic events. The quilts wrapped around children who are cold and exhausted, become sort of a cocoon or a shield of safety while they are sitting in my office waiting for the phone call letting us know where they will be going. Some kids fall asleep with their quilts, others use them as a matt to play with toys. The teenagers say thank you and use the actually bag as a pillow to relax with while waiting. All of my experiences with the kids are so short term, but I know long term they may forget my name but they will not forget the nice lady who gave them the quilt and helped them to safety. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. As a social worker I say thank you, the Bags of Love make my apprehensions a little less scary and lot more comfortable.
Gary* is a gentleman that picks up kids and takes them to their foster homes. He picked up Carson* and was taking him on a long drive to his new foster home. During the whole drive, Carson told Gary all about the television shows that he watches and what he likes best and all about TV, and it was apparent to Gary that Carson watched a lot of TV. Upon arrival at the new foster home, Gary gave Carson his new Bag of Love and they both went into the home. Carson dug in the Bag and came out with the Teddy Bear. He handed the stuffed bear to Gary and said "I won't need that, I'm too big for a Stuffed Bear". Gary took the bear and proceeded to give instructions to the new foster parents, and Carson went on a walk about around the home. After a while, Gary realized that Carson was sitting close to the table very sad and dejected. Gary asked Carson what the problem was, and with tears in his eyes and voice, Carson told Gary that there was no TV in the home. Gary offered the Stuffed Bear back to Carson and Carson hugged the bear and said "I think I'm gonna need him." The adults talked for a while and the new dad said "Carson, let's go for a walk." They went to a different room and there was a TV. Carson's face lit up. "Dad" and Carson had a discussion and then came back to where Gary was. Carson said to Gary, "I'm gonna keep the Bear. I can watch TV when I am a good boy, but I think I'm gonna need this Bear."
Hi, I received your information from ** children services office. Yesterday we had a little one brought into our office for various reasons. She was found in deplorable conditions, parents have issues with drugs etc. The investigator from the ** office brought us one of your bags and gave it to the 10 yr old girl. The little girl was so elated that people cared about her enough to give her that gift. The bags of love is such a wonderful gesture for the children we see and work with everyday. That gift bag made that child's day. I hope that my office might become a recipient of the Bags of Love. To make a child smile who was removed from their family for whatever reason, is a wonderful thing to do. Thank you for your time, **.
'Hi there. My name is W.B. I am a "foster parent". I ... asked to have the opportunity to share why the Bags of Love program is so valuable in the foster world today.
The children who come to us are never prepared for entering foster care. A child or children brought into care are forced to leave their homes, their world, their only known families and brought to some stranger's home by strangers they will likely meet only once or on occasion. Please imaging how you, your son or daughter, niece or nephew, or grandchild would feel being in that circumstance.
When I got a phone call to tell me a baby, a toddler, a girl or boy are needing someplace to stay, I am that stranger's home they will come to. Please imagine if you will, being sent to someone you've never met, a home or town you've never been to, with nothing but the clothes on your back and a quickly stuffed black garbage bag someone threw together. You are scared, frightened, sad, angry, sleepy, angry, scared... and the cycle goes on.
But when a Bag of Love is waiting for the child, or is brought with the child, it is a bridge that is used to give both the foster parent and the child something they can share at the START of the relationship. It gives the child or children hope in a very turned upside down world they are thrown into. It gives the foster parent something to help the child to see that they are wanted and welcomed to our home with something that is ONLY theirs.
As an example, I recently had two young children brought to my home from the Camrose Family Services. It was late at night, and I was not completely prepared for their arrival. Two Bags of Love came with them, and inside were things that helped both the bewildered children and me. Teddy bears, diapers, sleepers, books, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys, bottles, and other items that helped us get through the first night. Inside each bag was a quilt that each child instantly bonded to. One was a Winnie the Pooh, and one was a Noah's Ark handmade quilt.
I close my eyes and I see the 2 year old little girl who hadn't made a sound or move since she arrived suddenly sit up, and grasp the Winnie quilt. She took it and rubbed the nose of the bear on it, and said, "POOH!" I took both her and the blanket and we sat and rubbed Pooh's nose until she fell asleep. Her baby sister fell asleep with the giraffe on the quilt watching over her.
I will never meet the lady or ladies who took the time, effort and love to make these quilts, but I know I thanked them silently every time the little ones had nightmares, night terrors, or any kind of fears, and the peace they brought to these children.
I hope this program will be a resounding success here in our area. These Bags do not come with the names of the individuals who make them, but to the children and those who have used them, we call you "angels".
From a foster parent, "Thank you!"
"I would like to send a Thank you to those of you involved with Bags of Love.
Recently we had two young girls brought into care. They were awaiting to go to their new foster home. They were scared and worried. While they were here I picked out a Bag of Love for each of them. I let them know that when they went to bed they would be able to open them. They were excited and called them "Santa Sacks." Later that evening the caseworker brought them to their new foster home. They were sad they weren't going home to their mom and were upset. The foster mom then gave them the Bags go Love they were promised at bedtime. The girls became excited and saying it was like Christmas! After opening them, they showed each other all the things they had gotten. It totally changed around the evening.
Thank you so much! It definitely made their transition smoother and also easier on the children."
"As a Region, we have been so fortunate to be connected with a program called “Bags of Love”. Children’s Service’s mandate is to work with families and only as a last resort remove children if they are unsafe. Staff work hard to stabilize these families so that their children can be returned as quickly as possible. However, in the meantime, children are often confused and frightened.
This is where Bags of Love has stepped in to make a true difference in a child’s experience. They provide homemade quilts, stuffed animals, hygiene products and other gender and age-appropriate items. During an apprehension, we have seen the difference these bags make time and time again. Children become aware that there are other people “out there” that are thinking about them and care enough to provide such thoughtful gifts.
Recently, we had a 9 year old girl come into care and had to be placed separate from her infant sister. She was understandably upset and when she was given a Bag of Love she was taken by surprise. She read the letter inside the bag that lets her know that people in her community are thinking about her and care enough to have put together a bag of gifts just for her. It was very calming for her to know that, in a way, she wasn’t alone. She was thrilled to have her own toothbrush, toothpaste and particularly her own brush. It is amazing that little things mean so much to children who often go without. She covered herself with the quilt and gently rubbed the sides between her finger tips, again becoming more content. There happened to be two stuffed animals in her bag. She held onto one and decided that she wanted to “spread the love” and give the other teddy to another child who might be without.
This is one of the beautiful parts of this service. Bags of Love is helping children during an incredibly upsetting time in their lives. As child protection workers, we do our best to help the child transition into another home but we are blessed to have Bags of Love provide that humane, caring gesture that we’ve seen make a difference. In this instance, we saw a child, even in a moment of crisis, want to share goodwill. The proverb “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was never made so apparent by this little 9 year old girl. God Bless and many thanks!" Sherri Kohle, Foster Care Support Worker with East Central Alberta Child and Family Services
"My name is C. I am 3 years old. I like the colour yellow and I like trucks. Thank you for my gifts. I use the blanket and the elephant almost every day."
"Two brothers that were both in their early teens were waiting to be placed into a home. They were given their own bag. The boys were very dirty and in rough shape. One of the social workers who had given the boys the bags was working on filling out some of the paper work. She looked up to notice that the older brother had taken his quilt out of the bag and laid it on his lap. He sat there quietly stroking the soft flannel of the quilt and she realized the comfort that it gave to this fourteen year old boy. She said "Puppies, kittens, or quilts, they all seem to have a magic effect on children."
"My name is Baby M. and I am 3 months old. I spent the first month of my life hospitalized as my body needed to cleanse. I am much better now and have been able to use all the goodies you sent me in my Bag of Love. The homemade bear (Mr. Ticker) likes to help my foster mom tickle me. An oh the blanket is soooo soft! Your work matters so much. Many people do not have time to create this kind of support. I'm so glad you do. It made my foster mom smile. She said it made her feel supported too. Thank you for your time, thoughtfulness and prayers."
"There was a domestic dispute, and a young police officer had to remove a very young girl from her home in the middle of the night. In the short time the girl was in his care, she developed a strong bond with him, and would not let him go upon arriving at the child services office. A bag was given to her, and they convinced to open it. She pulled out the quilt, curled up on the couch, put her thumb in her mouth and fell asleep."
"Thank you soooo much for the new quilt you made me! It is so amazing! The pattern looked so difficult! Well, I'm assuming to you nothing is very difficult when it comes to making one of a kind quilts! I wish I could make quilts like you. Perhaps you can teach me sometime, I mean, it's worth a shot, don't you think? Anyway, your quilt that you made me really added some colour to my bedroom. And plus it's just the right size too (for my bed I mean)! Usually, every night I forget to close my window, so it makes it really cold at night. But ever since you gave me that quilt I could hardly even tell the difference, it's that warm underneath! You really have style when it come to picking out patterns and colours! Like that mustard yellow, apple red, blueberry blue, eggplant purple. Plus I love those roses, flowers, dots, swoops and swirls. Anyway I guess I should get this wrapped up. Bye!" - 12 year old girl