Take a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine that you are a grandparent to three wonderful kids, ages 3, 6 and 9. One day, they show up on your doorstep with three tiny little plastic bags. Your daughter-in-law quickly explains she can’t take care of them and leaves. You look inside their little bags and find a few toys, a couple incomplete outfits and a blanket. You sigh and bring them inside.
You sit them down in the living room and try to make them feel better. “We’re going to have a sleepover,” you say with the smile plastered on your face. Taking inventory throughout the house, it obvious you do not have enough food to feed everyone, you do not have clothes for the children, you need more hygiene items for everyone, and you don’t know where they will sleep. Plus, you’re on a fixed retirement budget.
How are you going to do this? Where do you go for help?
Kids Central strives to ensure every family has the necessary items to cloth, feed and care for the children. One way in which this is possible is through the Kids Central Resource Center. Managed by Kim Avera, the Resource Center Manager/Supervisor of Volunteer Services, the Resource Center has grown every year. Recently, it was completely redesigned to improve its functionality and storage capacity.
The Resource Center accepts donations from the public, including immediately needed items: non-perishable foods, hygiene products, home cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes, socks, underwear, clothes, beds, mattresses, sheets, and pillows. Furthermore, there is a continuous need for kitchen utensils, pots, pans, silverware, dressers, and couches.
“This time of year will see an increase in families needing school supplies, school clothes, and school uniforms. School uniforms being the most sought after items,” Avera says. “If businesses, organizations, or individuals want to get involved, they can donate uniforms in varying colors and sizes. Most school uniforms consist of khaki pants, khaki shorts, khaki skirts, and varying colors of solid polo shirts,” explains Avera.
Other ways to help? Businesses and organizations are encouraged to hold diaper showers, baby showers, kitchen showers, or house warming parties. Anything fun that will collect donations for the families that need them, throughout the entire year.
Back to our grandparent. After connecting with Kids Central’s Kinship Care program, they started attending support groups, applied for ACCESS Florida benefits and received food, clothes and bedding for the three kids. Now, you can take care of your grandkids.
The Resource Center helps other families too. For example, a foster parent who receives an emergency placement of a four siblings but is only prepared for one or two children, or teens aging out of the foster care system. When foster youth transition out of care and into independence, the center helps them with bedding, decorations, furnishings, and food. They don’t have a mom with an old TV in her garage to give them or a grandmother who replaced her living room furniture that can give them her old set. Kids Central and our donors fulfill those roles, and we need you to help.