IDAHO FALLS — A local mom who recently turned to the community for help with a service project is amazed at how it turned out.
Idaho Falls couple Nicole and Scott Klingler have been foster parents for a little over five years and have seen how it can be a scary experience for some foster children when they arrive at a stranger’s home to live. That’s why Nicole decided to put together “transition bags” and fill them with comfort items such as a fleece blanket, socks, boxed or instant food, toiletries, books and a small stuffed animal.
She turned to the preschool she owns, The Cat and the Fiddle, and the community to collect donations for the project. She gathered items for about six weeks, and on Saturday, she delivered them to a regional nonprofit organization that’s officially opening on Friday called The Village. The organization collects items for foster children and distributes them to eastern Idaho children in need.
“It got so big my whole basement was covered in all the donations. It was amazing,” Nicole told EastIdahoNews.com. “It turned into almost a full-time job trying to monitor everything that was coming in.”
Nicole’s original goal was to put together 10 bags for foster kids, but after posting about the project on Facebook, it took off. With the help of others, she assembled a total of 175 bags.
She says there were “tons” of leftover donations that were also donated to The Village, such as a brand new crib and two Pack ‘n Plays. Nicole collected such a large amount of donations that she ended up renting a U-Haul truck to deliver the items to The Village.
“It was overwhelmingly wonderful,” The Village Director Jacque Burt recalled about seeing the donations arrive. “(The transition bags) have eliminated a lot of work for us … and made sure that we can provide the next 170 (or so) kids a bag immediately … I’m very grateful for everyone who donated to her drive.”
Nicole had strangers reach out to help and money sent to her for the project from people clear across the country. She even had people open up to her and share their foster stories of when they were in foster care as a child or were foster care parents themselves.
“I think it’s easy sometimes to get discouraged with negativity that we see, but I learned that people overall want to do good and want to help out,” she added.
In the beginning, Nicole was keeping track of everybody who would donate something, but as word spread about the project, she couldn’t keep up with the number of people she was in contact with. She says she is appreciative of all who made the transition bags a success.
“I want to say a giant thank you to everybody who participated,” Nicole says. “No matter how big or small their donation was, it made a big difference, and it will make a huge difference for these kids that go into foster care.”
Nicole plans to do transition bags again during the holiday season this year.