Safe Haven Foster Shoppe having bag drive for foster children
Published August 23, 2017 at 9:24 am
There are approximately 428,000 children in foster care in the United States and around 11,000 children in Minnesota.
Sisters Terra Bastolich and Anita Olson wanted to help foster children during the difficult transition of entering foster care in Minnesota. They co-founded a nonprofit organization in January called Safe Haven Foster Shoppe.
“The inspiration for it came from myself doing foster care in Isanti County,” Olson said. “We kept seeing this repetitive pattern of these kids coming into foster care with only the clothes on their back.”
The Safe Haven Foster Shoppe is 100 percent volunteer based and creates bags for children when they go into foster care. The sisters collaborated on what specific items these kids really need, and each bag provides specific items for the child’s age and gender.
Safe Haven is having a “Back to School Bag Drive” until the end of August, which allows businesses and individuals to donate a bag for a child in foster care. First, they choose what age and gender for the bag, and then they build the bag with new items (tags must be on the items). After the bag is full, Safe Haven Foster Shoppe is contacted for a drop off location.
“Everything we put in the bags is 100 percent brand new. We want to give the kids a sense of worth and let them know that they mean something,” Olson said. “It’s never the kids’ fault for being put into foster care.”
The bags include a new outfit, pajamas, socks, underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, a blanket, a type of toy and a stuffed animal. Baby bags have diapers, wipes, bottles formula and a pacifier.
“The goal of Safe Haven is to get these bags to the foster home as soon as possible so the family doesn’t have to run out and get items right away,” Olson said. “The bags are delivered to the county social worker or directly to the foster home.”
Safe Haven Foster Shoppe currently services Isanti, Chisago, Pine, Washington, Sherbourne, and Anoka Counties. They also service St. Croix County in Wisconsin.
“We service these counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but we will service any foster home that reaches out to us,” Olson said.
Olson is the executive director of Safe Haven and works directly with the counties and their staff. Bastolich is the board president and does the marketing and social media for the organization.
“We work with some local businesses that supply us with staple items,” Olson said. “We obviously need financial donations as well, and we will take individual items like cloth diapers, blankets and toys. Safe Haven is growing fast because there is such a need for these kids going into foster care, and our mission is we do not want any child going into foster care empty handed.”
For more information about Safe Haven Foster Shoppe, go to https://safehavenfostershoppe.org.