It has been over 25 years, but I still remember the day I was removed from my family. A police officer handed me two small brown plastic bags from Fry’s, the local grocery store, and watched me pack my things. Sadly, I couldn’t even fill the grocery bags with my few belongings because my family had only recently moved into the apartment after being homeless. Luckily, my school bag was already packed with some necessities that would help me on my journey. With the bags in my hands, I followed the officer to his patrol car while another officer led my mother to the backseat of a different one. The crinkle of a grocery sack can still take me back to that day. All these years later, that old Jansport backpack sits on a shelf in my closet as a reminder of God’s goodness to me.
Children living in the foster care system will never forget the day they are removed from their families. For some children, it could save their lives, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating or terrifying. Imagine a case manager or police officer handing you a trash bag and giving you only a few minutes to collect your belongings. They tell you to say your goodbyes, which often includes your siblings because of a shortage of foster homes that take sibling groups. What if you could do something to ease this stressful and traumatic situation? Or even prevent it from happening in the first place?
Children living in the foster care system will never forget the day they are removed from their families.
In South Carolina, only law enforcement and family court are authorized to remove a child from the custody of their parents, while South Carolina Department of Social Services is responsible for the child’s care and placement. Oftentimes, the removal by a police officer adds to the intensity of the situation. After the horror of this moment is over, the child lives with the reality that the government is now their guardian. Their confusing journey has just begun.
Seacoast Church’s Local Missions strives to reach the most vulnerable in our communities. The foster care crisis is worse than it’s ever been, and the need is great. This winter, we will be focusing on helping children in care, the agencies that serve them, foster parents, and parents who have had their children removed or are at risk of losing them. We want to provide support to families and comfort to children, so they feel seen and valued. As the Church, it is our responsibility to care for these individuals. Everyone can do something!
We invite you to make a difference in the life of one child who lives right in our backyard.
1. Purchase gifts for Toy Shop
November 20 – December 6
The Mount Pleasant Campus Kidscoast Team is collecting new, unwrapped gifts for Closet of Hope’s annual Toy Shop event for foster and kinship families. Gifts or gift cards for children in care, ages 0-21, can be dropped off at the bins located in the Kidscoast areas. Foster parents will have the opportunity to choose gifts at the annual Toy Shop event on December 9 – 10.
Volunteer: If you are interested in volunteering at the Toy Shop event or in helping with the collection, go to the Serve app and sign up.
2. Donate a Journey Bag
December 4 – January 10
Donate a Journey Bag for a boy or girl in foster care. Journey Bags are backpacks or duffle bags filled with essential items, and age-appropriate toys and books for children. A Journey Bag is a tangible reminder to a child that they are not forgotten. Tags listing suggested items can be picked up at any Seacoast campus or online.
If you have children of your own, we encourage you to include them in the shopping and assembly of the Journey Bags. Be sure to take a minute to pray for the child who will receive your bag. Donations can be delivered to the church before January 10.
3. Help upgrade DSS Visitation Rooms
December 1 – January 20
The Charleston County DSS visitation rooms are getting a makeover! If you are interested in helping with the upgrades or donating some of the needed items, contact Leslie Rimerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Provide Ongoing Support
God designed the family unit as a place of healing and safety for children. A broken family needs support and guidance from God’s people. Through Families Count, local churches have a platform to minister to and walk with families in crisis to help them be restored and preserved.
Work with at-risk families: Help launch a seven-week, biblically based, court-approved parenting class for at-risk families. For more information, contact Nichole Johnson email@example.com.
Support foster families: Support a local foster family in the form of meals, respite care, etc. To learn more about foster care or adoption in South Carolina, a Foster and Adoption small group is available at the Mount Pleasant Campus. For more information, contact Allison Cordle firstname.lastname@example.org.