Hundreds of children are removed from their homes each year in Northwest Arkansas because of neglect or abuse. Often times, as these children are placed in foster care by the Department of Health and Human Services, they are unable to bring personal items with them. The Junior League of Northwest Arkansas saw an opportunity in 2002 to help ease this transition for children. Members developed That’s My Bag to provide displaced children with a backpack filled with common necessities, providing them with not only the essentials, but also a piece of comfort in a place that is foreign to them.
JLNWA’s partnership began with Judge Stacey Zimmerman who openly noted the need for tangible support for children in her court. From there, the project expanded to partner with DHS offices throughout Northwest Arkansas keeping strategic contacts in each office so that inventory remains steady. All backpacks have a book and new blanket, then age/gender appropriate toiletry items, diapers or underwear, and a toy. The older age group bags have items such as feminine hygiene products and all the bags have a journal and pen to provide a writing outlet for the recipients.
Recently, That’s My Bag has grown and evolved into an additional opportunity to support women as they start a new life outside of local shelters with “Departure Packs” filled with items needed for new beginnings.