VSECU, the credit union for all Vermonters recently held a back-to-school drive to support children Vermont’s foster care system and donated over $800 worth of back-to-school supplies. Items included backpacks, notebooks, binders and paper, folders, pencils, and water bottles and were distributed through Tatum’s Totes coordinated by Green Mountain United Way in partnership with the Department for Children and Families Barre and St. Johnsbury districts. This generous donation is part of VSECU’s commitment to give back to the local community.
“When I heard there was an opportunity to support children in foster care with something as simple as back-to-school supplies, I knew the team at VSECU could make a difference for these kids. Children in foster care can sometimes feel unseen and unheard by our community. Doing a drive like this gives us the chance to show these kids that their community does care deeply about them,” offered Ann Hodgdon, employee and back-to-school drive organizer at VSECU.
The Drawing Board, Montpelier’s local Art Supply and Framing Store, recently donated $1000 worth of art supplies to Green Mountain United Way. Items included markers, paints, sketch pads, origami kits, drawing pencils, and coloring books and will be distributed through Tatum’s Totes coordinated by Green Mountain United Way in the Barre, St. Johnsbury, and Newport Department for Children and Families districts. This generous donation is part of The Drawing Board’s commitment to give back to the local community.
“Growing up, art was something that helped me discover who I was. I imagine that these children, like many of us, need an outlet for creativity and a positive way to express themselves. If we can help give these children an opportunity to have a creative break, to enjoy making their own art, or coloring a picture to help relieve the stress they are experiencing, I’m so happy to be a small part of that positive experience for these kids,” said Drawing Board owner Liz Walsh.
Tatum’s Totes is a program that provides backpacks to children transitioning into foster care. Tatum’s Totes was founded by Liz and Alex Grimes when they began fostering children after their son Tatum died of SIDS at 5 months old. They found an independent organization to honor Tatum’s memory and to serve children in their home area of Rutland County after they realized that many foster children enter their new homes with little more than a plastic shopping bag with a few personal items. Green Mountain United Way brought Tatum’s Totes to the Barre and Newport DCF districts in 2016 and took over coordination of the St. Johnsbury DCF region 2017. Children entering foster care are given a backpack of their own filled with age-appropriate, caring items including blankets, books, toys, toothbrushes, and other hygiene items, games, a water bottle, school supplies, and art supplies.
“VSECU & the Drawing Board both embody the Vermont ethic of taking care of the community that takes care of you,” said Carrie Stahler, Director of Community Engagement at Green Mountain United Way. “These items will help children in foster care be able to go back to school with the items they need and help foster families, who generously open their homes to children in the community. It is always our goal to show children in foster care that their community loves, supports, and values them. The support of companies like VSECU and The Drawing Board demonstrates that so clearly.”
In the past 12 months, Green Mountain United Way has supported over 74 children entering foster care. For a complete list of items to support Tatum’s Totes, go to www.gmunitedway.org/tatumstotes.