This is what happened, in Jami's words:
"With kids in tow, I walked into DCFS and asked a simple question. 'Can I see the rooms where the kids come while they wait for a foster family to be found?' What I saw in there was just not right. Hard furniture, old, dirty toys, books that were ripped and torn. Nothing in that room said, 'you are special', 'you are worth more'. And so that became our mission... to create a space that says, 'You are special!"Don't you just LOVE Jami's heart... you can actually READ her passion through the words she writes. She put together a great video of the project too:
To learn more about what Jami's been up to and to get involved in the Forgotten Initiative, check out Jami's blog here and become a fan on f.acebook here.
While collecting donations to fix up the rooms, Jami realized that so many of the children that are removed from their homes are removed during the night, often times with only the clothes on their backs. They will spend the night in an office with a social worker who is trying to place them with a foster care family, and when they are placed, they go with nothing. The workers at the local offices expressed a need for items to help these kids adjust, make them feel loved, and allow them to have something special that they could call their own!
So, once we found out about the need, we quickly approached our women's ministry team at our home church (Pontiac Bible) and got to work putting together a project we called WISH (Women Involved In Spreading Hope). Dignity Bags were packed and distributed by the state to children entering into the Foster Care Program. These are small, age- and gender-appropriate bags containing a few simple items such as a toothbrush, a change of clothes, underwear, and a small toy. These bags help children in a scary and disorienting situation.
As we made the announcement and stood outside the auditorium praying that people would come by and sign up to bring items, we were immediately blown away by the response from the Body of Christ! Our small church was able to purchase supplies and bags to pack SIXTY BAGS for children in our three surrounding counties! God was at work in so many hearts and we were so humbled to be a part of it!
We quickly started praying and asking the Lord to show us what He would have us do to bring hope to these children and thought maybe this could be an annual event.... fast forward less than 12 months later.... WE ARE CREATING THESE BAGS AGAIN!
The small groups at PBC have all been challenged to pack 5 bags each. Each bag costs less than $20 and we are focusing on the ages with the greatest need (2-6 yrs). As a team we will come up with the following items:
comb or brush, small barrette (for girls), diapers (4, 5, or 6), 1-2 sippy cups, kids toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, travel size body wash, socks, tshirt, sweatshirt, pants, small toy, coloring/activity book, and crayons.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU? I'm so glad you asked! :)
For those of you that would like to participate in this project, please let us know (ucherek1 AT hotmail DOT com) and we can give you some instructions. If you are local, Dan and I would be glad to pick up the items from you and deliver them to dcfs. If you are not able to get the items to pack a bag or live out of town, please consider donating diapers, wipes, or formula for these children and families. Amazon has a great way to order these items online and have them shipped directly to us.
What else can you do? PRAY! We are asking God to provide for 60 bags again this year! May these children feel LOVED and see JESUS through His people in action!