By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday, the Crescenta Cañada Lions Club collected new and gently used backpacks and suitcases, along with some toiletries, to be donated to the Los Angeles County Foster Care system.
Kases for Kids is an event sponsored by the Lions Club to help ease the transition for children who are taken into foster care. Many times the children are transported in the middle of the night and the only thing they leave their home with is a garbage bag with some items thrown in.
Janet Trotter brought her donation to the Lions Club collection center at Ralph’s market in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard on Saturday. For her the need to help was personal.
Trotter’s parents were divorced and issues arose that required Child Protection Services to step in.
“I was a young girl, in kindergarten, and it is something you don’t forget,” she said. “It was during the summer. I was [in the vehicle with] a social worker; my sister went with my father… We had nothing, we went empty-handed.”
There were four children in her family. Two – her sister and she – were placed in foster care while two others went with family members.
“We went into a home that was strange to us. We were shown to our rooms,” she recalled. “We had to eat outside. These people didn’t let us eat in their home. … I remember it was a very beautiful home.”
The two sisters eventually returned to their father and were raised on their aunt’s farm in the Midwest, but Trotter remembered what it was like to leave home with nothing at all.
She saw the flyer for Kases for Kids and knew she had to do something.
“You’ve got to help these kids,” she said.
She added that having a backpack or suitcase filled with their own personal items, some things they could call their own, would mean everything to children.
The collected items are being donated to District 4L1, which reaches from the San Fernando Valley to the desert and Palmdale, and up into the Sierra Mountains and Mammoth, covering a great portion of Eastern-Central California.
At the end of the day, 206 “kases” were collected along with a variety of stuffed animals, blankets, school supplies and personal care items.
“We are blessed to live in such a wonderful community where the people care so much about those less fortunate and are willing to help out,” said Art Rinaman, president Crescenta Cañada Lions Club. “I would like to thank all the local businesses that helped the Crescenta Cañada Lions Club by posting our flyers in their store windows, allowing us to place our flyers in their businesses and shops, the CV Weekly for all the coverage and most of all the people who donated items to our fourth annual Kases for Kids drive.”
Anyone who may have missed the donation opportunity on Saturday can still drop backpacks off at the Fire House youth center, 2563 Foothill Blvd., on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or contact Art or Dee Rinaman at (818) 248-0478 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“And we aren’t done yet,” added Rinaman. “In conjunction with the Prom Plus 20th annual celebration that will be taking place on Aug. 9 at CV Park, we will be accepting donations for Kases for Kids on that day as well. We want to help as many children in foster care as we can.”