Foster Love Project is one of this year’s Kickball for Cause recipients. Foster Love Project provides goods, services, and support to local children and teens impacted by foster and kinship care.
Meet Foster Love Project
Foster Love Project’s mission is to provide impactful resources to empower children in transition by giving love and support to foster children and the families that care for them. Foster Love Project’s work is committed to the dignity of the kids that come into foster and kinship care. Founder Kelly Hughes sums up their mission succinctly, stating “We never want them to feel like they’re less than anybody else because of their experience of being in foster care.”
Foster Love Project is the largest resource for kids in foster care for goods and services in Western PA. Children in foster and kinship care face many issues of identity and self-esteem. The transition into foster care is difficult and often scary. The children often go to a family member or a stranger’s home without their belongings, or, sadly, with the few things they can take in black garbage bags. “When your life is in trash bags, it sends the message that not only is your stuff disposable, but maybe you’re disposable,” says Hughes.
How Foster Love Project Works
Foster Love Project works to build up the dignity and self-worth of children and young adults in foster or kinship care. Foster Love Project provides foster agencies with placement bags with a new outfit, toiletries, a toothbrush, a new pack of socks, plus some comforts of home including a book, blanket, and a stuffed animal. A placement bag shows that people see them for who they are and care about them.
Foster Love Project also runs a donation center where kids shop for clothes, shoes, toys, books, bedding, and toiletries, all for free. Every year, more than 500 kids come through their free shopping center in Wilkinsburg. At the donation center, the dignity of the kids remains central. The space is comfortable, welcoming, and modern with shelves and racks filled with new, name-brand, and on-trend options. “We keep very high standards on what we put on our shelves and make sure that the kids and teens will feel a lot of pride and joy in the items that they’re able to choose when they’re shopping at our center,” explains Hughes.
The donation center is geared specifically for kids who are in foster care or kinship care. This includes foster families and perhaps a grandma or grandpa raising a grandchild or aunt or uncle who has taken in a niece or nephew. The store is open by appointment, for a good reason. Foster Love Project wants to ensure that the kids have a personal volunteer shopper. This also allows them to make sure that they are stocked with the right sizes and styles for the kids when they come to shop.
For example, the day after this year’s Kickball for a Cause, over 200 kids will attend their back-to-school event to receive back or school supplies and backpacks, a new hoodie, and new name-brand shoes, an important staple of everyone’s back-to-school plans. “We know that the shoes kids are wearing are a high source of bullying in schools. And so we want to ensure that kids can be proud of the shoes and clothes that they’re wearing as they return to school.”
Why Foster Love is Important to Young Pittsburgh
By ensuring that kids and teens are supported and thriving despite their circumstances, Foster Love Project invests in the next generation of young Pittsburgh professionals. Monetary and physical donation drives can be a fun volunteer opportunity for young Pittsburghers.
Funds from PUMP’s Kickball for a Cause will support Foster Love Project in many ways, including replenishing their shelves after their August Back-to-School event and providing items for placement bags.
If you can’t attend this year’s Kickball for a Cause, you can still make a donation. Your donations allow hundreds of children and young adults in our area to settle into their new homes in comfort and confidence.
With around a hundred kids shopping at the donation center each month, Foster Love Project’s shelves can get cleaned out quickly. They continuously refresh clothing stock and make sure that kids have access to what they need when they come into the center. They rely on monetary donations to keep their shelves full. While they do take physical donations of new clothes, bags, and shoes, funds allow them to make sure that they have all items and all sizes in stock.
There are many ways to get involved with Foster Love Project, including:
- If you or someone you know have experienced either foster care or adoption, volunteer for their Teen Mentoring program for young adults between 12 – 18. Having an adult that can directly relate to their experiences is invaluable for teens experiencing foster and kinship care. Email Foster Love Project to learn more.
- Volunteer at the donation center. You or a group can help from shopping with the kids and teens to stocking and organizing the shelves.
- Donate Items or books from Foster Love Project’s wishlists.
- Make a financial donation.
- Share the word about this important mission by sporting some Foster Love Project swag.
- Teach the next generation about the importance of giving by encouraging the kids in your life to host a lemonade stand benefitting Foster Love Project.