Raising awareness, supplies for foster youth


SIDNEY — For National Foster Care Month, a local agency is working to set up foster youth for success.

“Our goal as an agency is to provide a youth with a duffel bag every time they enter a home. What some people might not know is that, when a foster family receives a call that they’re getting a child coming into their home, sometimes they have no notice. They get the phone call, and then an hour later, the kid is there. They don’t have time to run out to WalMart and get certain supplies to help the youth feel comfortable,” Sylvia Roop, foster parent recruiter for SAFY, said.

SAFY is a non-profit foster care agency that recruits, trains and licenses foster parents in the area. In addition to this, SAFY offers on-site mental health services to the children they place in foster homes, which includes trauma healing, parent skills building, school success mentoring, and teaching coping skills. SAFY’s Sidney location currently works with foster families in Shelby, Miami, Auglaize, Mercer, Logan, Champaign and Darke counties. In Miami and Shelby counties, roughly 17 families are served by SAFY.

Over the last several months, SAFY has been able to donate Christmas gifts and Easter baskets to the foster youth they serve due to the generosity of local and area businesses and people donating their time and resources to help. For National Foster Care Month, the agency will be taking donated essentials and compiling them into duffel bags, to be given to foster youth when they enter a new foster home. Roop said that SAFY places just over 100 children in foster homes each year; for the “Rally Duffel Bag Drop-Off”, she’s hoping to fill 50 bags. Currently, the agency has filled 15 bags.

“Other than providing the basic necessities, it’s a lot more than just that. It’s something that the kid can call theirs. The duffel bags provides them a sense of, ‘this is mine, this belongs to me,’ type of thing. It’s a sense of hope,” Roop said. “A lot of the time, these kids are coming in with trash bags, and that’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

The Rally Duffel Bag Drop-Off will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. May 13 at 1065 Fairington Drive, Sidney. Donation items are currently being accepted and include duffel bags, blankets, disposable razors, journals, colored pencils, headphones, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, body wash, washcloths, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products, hair ties, diapers (size 5 and size 6), baby wipes and sippy cups. SAFY also has a detailed Amazon wishlist available. Roop added that SAFY cannot accept anything used, and currently does not have the space to accept luggage, clothing or stuffed animals.

“It’s a time where community members, if they want to help out, this is a time they can,” Roop said.

Donations can be sent or delivered to SAFY’s Sidney office, and volunteers are welcome to help fill duffel bags during the event. To volunteer, contact Roop at 937-497-7239, extension 1709 or [email protected].

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