The project, called "It's My Very Own" was brought about due to the large numbers of children that are displaced from their homes because parents make the wrong choices. Many times when auhorities are called in, the children must be removed from their home and taken to a safe location. "These children have nothing and in some circumstances they can take nothing with them," said Barbara Neher, who helped create the project.
These children have now lost their home, parents and personal items including clothes and toys. Neher designed the "Bags of Love" to meet a child's immediate basic needs. "It takes little things to make a child happy," she said.
Neher, with the help of her husband, her daughter and grandaughter have been making and filling the bags. The bags are then given to Pat King with Child Protective Services for King to hand out. When taken into custody, a child is given one of these bags.
The bags contain items that are intended to comfort a child. Each bag contains a soft, cuddley toy, personal items such as toothbrush and a hairbrush, and a handmade quilt. Children 12 years and younger receive age appropriate toys. Children 13 years and older receive items such as a disposable camera and calling cards. "These are items that are small enough to keep in a bag so they can take it with them," Neher said.
The bags are duffel bags that have been handmade by Neher's husband. All of the quilts have been handmade by Neher. "What is a better way than to have this and be comforted?" she said of the handmade quilts.
Children that are being taken into foster care are glad to have something to take with them, especially because these bags are their very own. Each bag is tagged with the appropriate age and gender, giving the bag a more personalized feel.
Approximately 12 children a month in Trigg County are taken into foster care. There is a need for almost 150 bags per year in order to have a bag for every child. The Nehers have been funding the project and making the bags themselves, but they are asking for community support. At the March meeting of the Inter Agency Council, Neher talked about the project.
Robin Jergens is the Regional Housing Project Representative for the Delta Project, a federally funded project that helps meet local rural health needs. Jergens has recently become involved with the project "It's My Very Own." She said, "There is no other project I know of like this."
Donations are greatly accepted, either in the form of supplies such as toys and personal items or monetary donations. People are also needed to help make quilts or donate fabric to make quilts. All checks can be made out to The Cadiz Mission and sent to PO Box 1156 in Cadiz. For more information on the project call Barbara Neher at 522-1494.