‘It gives them their voice back.’ Local foster care closet officially opens its doors
BLACKFOOT — A local organization dedicated to helping foster children has a new place to call home.
The Village, a nonprofit organization that collects items for foster children and distributes them to eastern Idaho children in need, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday at its new location, 35 East Pacific Street in Blackfoot.
For the past few years, the group has been working out of a storage unit in Idaho Falls, the Blackfoot Food Pantry and The Village Director Jacque Burt’s home. Burt, a former foster parent who’s also done adoption, says as far as she knows, this is the only foster care closet in southeast Idaho.
“Children who come into (foster) care can come into our store and they can choose items for themselves … If they can come in and choose those items for themselves, it gives them their voice back,” Burt told EastIdahoNews.com. “We want to be a kid-friendly place where foster parents and caseworkers can come in, bring the children, and let them choose for themselves.”
The Village caters to children 0 to 18 years of age and has “anything” that a person in that age range might need. Some of those items include diapers, clothing, shoes, toys and personal hygiene products.
Plus, they provide independent living kits for those who are 18 and aging out of the system. The kits have what a person who is going to college might need such as a broom and dustpan, pots and pans, bedsheets and a blanket.
Burt says The Village is “fluid” meaning that when a need arises, they find a way to get the item the foster child is looking for.
“We never know what a kiddo is going to need,” Burt added. “If they need a musical instrument because they want to go into band and we can find one for them and save that expense for the foster family, then I will.”
The Village covers 17 counties from north of Rexburg to the southern counties. It’s entirely made up of volunteers and everything that is taken in is donated, according to Burt. She says that as fast as donations come in, they go out.
“I am brought to tears on many occasions by the goodness that I see in our community,” she mentioned. “It’s beautiful.”
Burt says no child is placed in foster care because of something they’ve done, but that it’s generally an issue within the family. She wants The Village to help ease the pain of the traumatic experience foster children go through by helping nurture and love them through a hard time in their life.
“When they (the community) brings in clothing and I can put this kiddo in a few pair of jeans, a couple shirts and shoes, a new coat and some gloves, their worldly needs are met, so they can deal with all the emotional and relationship stuff,” Burt says. “It really is a blessing to be able to do that for these children.”
Donations can be dropped off at the store on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For people who live further away, you can contact Burt on Facebook and she’ll give you the address of a foster parent nearby who you can drop items off on their porch and the parent will take the items to the facility.
Businesses interested in contributing or sponsoring The Village can contact The Village at (208) 569-6298.
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