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Narrator: 300,000 abused, neglected, and abandoned children are rescued each year and enter crisis centers without the dignity or comfort of any personal belongings. That's where we come in. Janeen Holmes: Kids get what they can see and what they can feel and what's tangible right that minute and that's why it's so important to give them some stuff. That's what makes them feel reassured. That's why it's worth investing in. We fill up a My Stuff Bag with a beautiful little handmade blanket, a stuffed animal, some toys, some toiletries, things for them to, things for them to hold onto as they go through this crisis in their life. You're really doing something right at the moment of terrible desperation for a child. Right at that moment, you're handing them something that says you're worthy, you're loved, people care about you.
The My Stuff Bags Foundation, located in Los Angeles, CA, provides individual duffels of new belongings to children who have been rescued from abuse, neglect and abandonment. More than 300,000 children enter foster care each year, tens of thousands more flee domestic violence and enter shelters with their mothers or are homeless. Traumatized by the events leading to their removal from home, these children often enter foster care and crisis shelters with nothing of their own. Rescuing agencies rarely have the resources to provide something as basic as a toothbrush or as comforting as a teddy bear. By rallying widespread individual, community and corporate support, we fill this gap with My Stuff Bags. The Bags address the immediate physical and psychological needs of these children who are unfortunately at high-risk for the effects of "Adverse Childhood Experiences"(ACEs), as identified by the Center for Disease Control. Experiencing ACEs has been correlated with significantly increased mental and physical health challenges.
We give children something to do, something to hold on to at a desperate time in their lives. By doing so, we seek to minimize the long-term impact and suffering arising from the traumatic events of abuse, loss of home and often family, and loss of all belongings. My Stuff Bags assist caregivers in administering a unique form of what is known as "Psychological First Aid." Each age and gender appropriate individual Bag is filled with necessities such as toiletries, clothing and school supplies and comforts, such as stuffed animals, toys and a handmade blanket. Every item inside is brand new and offers reassurance to the children that they are worthy of love, which helps to restore their self-esteem. A stuffed animal can calm a crying toddler, a blanket brings soothing warmth, a new toy or game will keep a young child busy and give them a way to interact with others, personal toiletries help a teenager feel better about his or her appearance. And because My Stuff Bags are filled with items donated by caring people, and stuffed by volunteers, children opening their My Stuff Bags are receiving tangible proof that many people care about them.
The My Stuff Bags Program began in 1998 as a response to a desperate cry for help from caregivers, who described rescued children arriving at shelters with just the clothes on their backs, crying, and with nothing to cling to for comfort and solace. We decided to take an innovative approach to this problem, supplying individual duffels filled with new, donated rather than purchased items, making our Bags special and creative and the product of many caring hands across the country. A My Stuff Bag is personalized by age and gender and each one has a name tag for the child fill out, further making it a treasured possession they can take with them through the many transitions foster children must endure. To our knowledge, no other nonprofit provides rescued children with personal necessities on a consistent, high quality and geographically widespread basis. My Stuff Bags is our sole program, with more than 90% of our revenue dedicated to it.
Since the Program began, due to incredible grassroots support, My Stuff Bags have reached the hands and hearts of over 560,000 children. Because Los Angeles is an area of immense need, nearly 200,000 children here were among them.