Each year, thousands of children across the United States enter into the foster care system, and two local children are doing their part to ease the transition into a new home.
Through a program called Together We Rise, Phoebe Howerton and her brother Logan are collecting donations to make comfort bags for young children in the foster care system. The non-profit organization will send brand new bags and comfort items to the Howerton family, and they will distribute them to the local agency.
“Some children in Sampson County foster care go to live with extended family and have a few of their own items,” Amy Howerton, Phoebe and Logan’s mother, said. “Others leave their homes without much at all. Whatever their situation, receiving a new bag of comfort items is meant to show them that people care.”
The bags are filled with a hygiene kit, coloring book, blanket, stuffed animal and other small items.
The idea to take part in the Together We Rise program started after the Howertons were cleaning out rooms and finding items to donate locally. Phoebe donated some stuffed animals to the sheriff’s department to give to kids who were visiting their parents in jail. That, her mother said, brought positive feelings and made her want to do more.
“When you help it puts you in a different mindset to be kinder to everyone around you and realize people need help,” Phoebe explained. “It didn’t used to mean anything to me when people donated stuff, but I’ve realized how many people don’t have anything.”
Phoebe’s donation left her and Logan wanting to do more. After some research, the family learned of Together We Rise, which would allow them to seek donations and be used to help kids in the foster care system.
“We specifically chose helping kids in foster care as our project because their dad grew up in a house with a lot of foster siblings and it’s something we have discussed before,” Amy shared.
Phoebe and Logan set a goal of collecting enough donations to make 20 bags. With more than a week left until their collection deadline, 33 people have already made a donation and as of March 17, the Howertons have collected $1,098.
“We set a goal of 20 bags, because we thought that was about what we could handle making,” Amy explained. “Since then, many people have offered to help put them together, and DSS can certainly use more than 20. We will continue collecting money until March 28. We would love to see a huge number of bags come in and take people up on those offers to help put them together.”
Phoebe, who is soon to turn 12, and Logan, who is 9, haven’t asked anyone to do anything they haven’t already done. According to their mother, both children have donated their own chore money towards the fundraiser.
“I am so proud of both kids,” Amy said.
For anyone wishing to make a donation, visit www.togetherwerise.org/fundraise/sampsoncounty. Donations can be made through pay pal or Visa.
Both Phoebe and Logan say they are extremely thankful for all those who have given or plan to volunteer their time putting the bags together.
“It’s great knowing we are surrounded by so many generous people,” Amy said. “Many people from Sampson County, as well as out of state friends and family, have made donations.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.