The children were scared.
Of course they were. The oldest of the three, only four-years-old, held the trembling hands of her younger siblings while tears streamed down her face. Not only were they suffering from severe abuse from their biological parents, the three children were also scared of us. So recently displaced from the only home they’ve ever known, they were terrified as they walked into the home of strangers. My wife and I knew that we had to be patient with them, as well as surround them with compassion, understanding and love.
Like most children placed into a foster home, these three kids arrived with only the clothing on their backs. No shoes on their feet, or jackets to keep them warm. No toothbrushes or toiletries. Not even a teddy bear to cling to. My wife had to hide her shock when she noticed that the four-year-old’s clothes were stapled together in some areas.
When a child comes into foster care, all too often he or she comes with a black plastic bag containing the few items in his or her possession, quickly collected by social workers or law enforcement officers. Our three little ones did not even have that luxury – the luxury of possessions. It was devastating. Immediately, I grabbed my jacket and car keys and sprinted out the door. Though it was late at night, there was a sense of urgency within me. I needed to get these children some clothing, underwear, shoes, as well as diapers and wipes for the youngest two.
“Kids leave behind a lot when they are placed in foster care. Outfitting a growing child can be especially difficult for foster parents when funds from the state cover just a fraction of expenses,” said Janis Avery, CEO of Treehouse for Kids.
Not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. As foster parents for the past 15 years, my wife and I will be the first to admit that it has been one of the most challenging roles in our lives. But despite the challenge, it’s important for people to understand that everyone can help a child in need. Those that choose to help children in foster care inspire others and continuously remind me why my wife and I began helping foster children in the first place. That is why I am so impressed with Mattress Firm Foster Kids and its mission to raise awareness for this nationwide need. May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and also the start of Mattress Firm’s clothing drive to collect new clothes to help foster children look and feel their best, even during difficult times.
On any given day in America, there are roughly 500,000 children in foster care; there are children who are in need, who are scared and have nothing to call their own; there are children hoping you will help them. Will you answer that call to help a child in need?
Photo Credit: Getty Images