By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club is accepting donations for its annual Kases for Kids program. Each year the organization collects backpacks that will be distributed to children entering, or already in, foster care. This year club members will be collecting backpacks, small suitcases and other items like toiletries on Aug. 1 in a booth in the parking lot of Ralph’s market at 2675 Foothill Blvd. The drop-off times are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The club has been working with the Dept. of Children and Family Services since 2011. Many times children who are moved to foster homes do not have any type of backpack or suitcase to put possessions in. At times the only thing available is a garbage bag … a depressing option.
The time of transition into a foster home can be stressful for children; the donated backpacks will hopefully make that transition a little easier. All bags will be filled with donated items including toiletries, school supplies, blankets and other items. The bags will go to the Dept. of Children and Family Services for distribution.
This year the organization has been getting the word out early about its collection and has been pleasantly surprised at the response, according to Lion’s Club member Dee Rinaman. A member of the Sierra Club found a flyer for the donation appeal at the Montrose Library and took it to her hiking team.
“Within a few days we began getting calls and emails asking if they weren’t able to come to the Aug. 1 [drop off] event could they drop the [backpacks] off early,” Rinaman said. “Of course I said yes and we ended up with 23 cases in two days.”
And the donations of backpacks and toiletries, stuffed animals and blankets have continued coming in.
“I want to thank the Griffith Park section of the Sierra Club for its donations to our 2015 Kases for Kids event. I would also like to thank our community for its outpouring of donations in the years past,” Rinaman said.
Some of the donations so far include handmade afghan blankets and other gently used blankets.
“Last year, I received a call from a mom who told me her young son had a few things he wanted to donate and when they arrived he made several trips to the car to bring bags of new just-bought times,” she said. “What a great kid.”
Although donations have been coming in, more are always needed. According to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, 28,000 children are in foster care in L.A. County.
The Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club has worked with the Dept. of Children & Family Services since 2011 organizing backpack drives. Last year’s drive yielded over 240 suitcases and backpacks, according to Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club President Art Rinaman. Though this is an improvement from the 150 bags collected in 2011, Rinaman is still seeking more participation from his fellow residents.
“The main thing I like to get across to people is this event doesn’t have to cost them a cent or even a dollar,” said Rinaman. “In fact, it helps them get rid of suitcases and backpacks they are not using and are just storing.”
The Dept. of Children & Family Services also requests various types of donations from comfort items like stuffed animals to necessities like toothbrushes and soap. For those who are unable to come to the drop off event on Aug. 1 or would like more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 248-0478.