Stephen Foster Elementary PTA in Lakewood, CA (Thirty-Third District PTA) gives back to the students in the community who need it the most. The PTA realized their school had a large population of foster youth and decided to research ways to help these more vulnerable students. They found an organization called Together We Rise – a non-profit dedicated to transforming the way kids experience foster care in America – and decided to work together to better the lives of all students.
“Our school wanted to figure out how we could give back and help kids who are in the foster system,” said Sandee Trowbridge, president of Stephen Foster Elementary PTA at the time.
Together We Rise provided PTA with duffel bags and a few items to include in them through their Sweet Cases program, and then the responsibility of filling the bags and delivering them to a foster home or agency was up to the PTA. When foster youth move from home to home, they often have to stuff their belongings in trash bags. PTA wanted the children in their community to have a better way of moving their things and something they could be happy to carry around.
Stephen Foster Elementary PTA hosted a family night, which attracted more than 400 people, and asked for community participation in changing the lives of foster children. The families filled the duffel bags with donated items such as pajamas, night lights, coloring books, socks, gloves, toiletry items and more, and the children who attended decorated the bags to make them fun and appealing.
“We received so many donations! Because of the amount, we were able to individualize the bags by age,” said Trowbridge.
Some of the duffel bags were geared towards younger children, with lots of crayons and coloring books, while others were for older children, with Harry Potter books and trendy pajamas. Sandee Trowbridge and a fellow PTA volunteer delivered the filled and decorated bags to Aspiranet Child & Family Services in Long Beach, CA just before the winter holidays.
“It was a great experience and we were very excited to give back!” said Trowbridge.