Duffels make a difference

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CWU students filled duffel bags with stuffed animals and blankets for local foster children.

CWU students filled duffel bags with stuffed animals and blankets for local foster children.

Elizabeth Weddle

Elizabeth Weddle

CWU students filled duffel bags with stuffed animals and blankets for local foster children.

April Porter, Staff Reporter

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Thirty cases were filled with blankets, stuffed animals and hygiene products on Jan. 12 to be given to the local Kittitas County Social Services. When children are taken from their homes, the bags are given to them as soon as possible in order to avoid having to use trash bags, according to the CWU’s news webpage.

Jessica Strawn, the senior faculty lecturer in the sociology and social services department, worked for social services for nine years. Strawn recently left her job at social services last  August to work full time as a lecturer.

“I wanted to give our [social service] office enough resources to last a year” Strawn said. She continued to explain that Kittitas County gets around 30 to 40 children in the foster care system each year.

The children taken from their homes, “do not come in with much,” Strawn added. It makes it easier on the children to have a bag to put their special things into while in a stressful situation. Strawn wants to give every new foster child the ability to think, “Somebody really cares about me.”

Starlett Burnett was in the foster system from the age of 13 to 18 and wishes she had received something like this duffel bag. When given a bag like this, the kids “feel more welcome with a bag of their own,” Burnett said. Burnett now works with moms in need of assistance. When Burnett heard about the cases, “I thought it was a great idea,” Burnett concluded.

Strawn wants to expand this idea to other counties. She is also excited for more students to get involved. A foster parent must be at least 21 years old, but a college student can still be a mentor to a foster child.

Some of the ways CWU students can get involved in helping the foster system is through Together We Rise, which has a website including specifics on how to get involved. There is a local group called Fostering Hope that needs volunteers for supervision and child care while foster parents are in training.

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Duffels make a difference