Duffle Shuffle to support children in foster and kinship care

Clark County children in foster care and kinship homes will get a little help from their friends at Clark State College this fall.

The Clark State College Student Senate and Early Childhood Education (ECE) program students will host the Duffle Shuffle from Aug, 23 through Oct. 22.

The Duffle Shuffle - organized in coordination with Clark County Department of Job and Family Services - Family and Children Services - will collect and provide personal hygiene items to be placed in duffle bags. The duffle bags will then be given to children in foster care and kinship homes.

“This cause started as our ECE students in our Socioemotional Development course learned about trauma and information regarding children in foster care they may face as teachers one day,” says Brielle Hastings, early childhood education instructor at Clark State. “My students and I felt the need to help as it is estimated 250,000 children in the United States enter foster care each year.”

Hastings says many children are given only 10 minutes to pack their belongings in a trash bag they are provided by children's services.

“We hope to change this and provide each child with their own duffle bag filled with basic things they may need so they may only have to worry about packing their beloved things, such as clothes, their favorite stuffed animal, things they do not want to leave behind,” she says.

McKenzie Meyer, foster care supervisor with Clark County Family and Children Services, says there are currently 61 children in foster care and 150 in kinship homes in Clark County.

“Partnering with Clark State for the Duffle Shuffle will help tremendously,” says Meyer. “Many of these children come to us with absolutely nothing or very few items. Having a duffle bag gives them a sense of their own stuff. It shows that their stuff is important. It’s a sense of belonging and importance of their own identity and personal belongings.”

The Clark State Student Senate is a leadership organization of elected representatives from each Clark State campus. Student Senate helps develop non-academic activities for the student body, igncludin community service activities like the Duffle Shuffle.

“Clark State students, faculty and staff strive to make a difference in our community,” says Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “The Duffle Shuffle is another creative way to reach out and make a difference. I am proud of the Student Senate and ECE students for partnering on this simple yet effective event supporting children in Clark County.”

Duffle Shuffle donation requests include: toothbrushes and toothpaste, hairbrushes and combs, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and more. All items should be new and unopened, if packaged.

The ECE students and Student Senate will be delivering the items and duffle bags to Clark County Family and Children Services in early November.

Drop-off locations for donations will be available at the entrances of Clark State’s main campus in Springfield.

“Members from the community can offer donations,” says Hastings. “They are free to reach out to me if they have any questions. We are hoping to donate at least 50 duffle bags with supplies, but more would be much appreciated.”

For more information, contact Brielle Hastings at: [email protected].
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.