Distress and uncertainty collide when children are collected from a dysfunctional home. Abuse, neglect, or even the incarceration of a parent can take place before their very eyes. It is the shirt on their back that stays with them, as authorities such as Child Protective Services agents escort them into a new life in the unknown.
These children will no longer be hurt by the tragic situations they once endured, but to be thrust into frightening change—sometimes repeatedly—is no easy task. It’s My Very Own is an organization that aims to ease the transition into a new home by giving a bag of love-filled items including books, toys, necessities and a handmade quilt that belongs to them no matter where they go.
Each bag is made with love by the volunteers of IMVO. But to reach more kids in more communities, more volunteers with this love are needed.
What does it look like to start? Here’s how it went for Janet.
“I didn’t know how this was going to impact my life in so many ways,” says Janet Tucker, who fills bags of love in Bourbon County, Kansas.
Several years ago, Tucker sat in the Fort Scott Church and listened to a presentation that explained how to create durable bags with essentials and goods for children who are on the move within the foster care system. Her full-time job seemed an insurmountable barrier to being able to help, but she stored the idea in her prayers as she contemplated the call to be a part of this project.
After two years, Tucker decided to commit. “I jumped in with both feet,” she says when describing her determination to bring IMVO to the children of her community.
She started by presenting the idea to her church board and requesting the use of the fellowship hall to set up a sewing spot. After launching a date for the program to start, Tucker began to seek helpers. “I hit the ground running by talking to any person or group that would stop long enough for me to inform them of this endeavor,” she says about the search.
Fast-forward four years and Tucker meets once a week with a group she describes as some of the most loyal and big-hearted women she has ever met. Two are members of her church and the others come from different walks of faith—all brought together to put a smile on the faces of little ones.
They are all different, and bring a rich diversity to the jobs that can be done each week: one irons the fabric, one ties the comforters, and some take fabric home to sew while others sew at the church. Each one dedicates a chunk of time to not only experiencing extraordinary purpose for their own life, but to personally contribute to the well-being and high spirits of others who are thrust into a life of hardship at an early age.
What is the need?
Since the development of the IMVO project in Tucker’s home church, several regional supervisors from the Department of Children & Families offices in surrounding counties have reached out to Tucker about expansion. When Tucker heard the number of children outside her own county, she knew her local group was too small to keep up with the need.
“It became my mission to seek out people who love to sew and set them up with the organization, but no one has stepped up to take the responsibility yet,” says Tucker about forming an IMVO chapter in other counties. “They often want to help us, which is appreciated, but the children in their counties would benefit so much more if they started their own work.”
The children in counties around Bourbon County are deprived of love-filled bags for lack of collaborators—Bourbon County is the only county currently being served out of 198 counties in Kansas. There are two chapters in Nebraska.
Not sure about the money? God makes a way.
Tucker has received donations for the initiative from clubs and individuals in her community. Some churches in her area have collected listed items as their own mission project and some volunteers have cleaned out their sewing rooms to provide Tucker with the means to create warm blankets perfect for winter.
For the last two years, Tucker has applied for a local grant from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation and has received $2,000. This money has covered the cost of batting and backing for quilts, as well as toys and clothing.
“My ladies have been wonderful, and I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I have for the community I live in,” says Tucker.
The impact on Tucker’s life
“Working with IMVO has strengthened my spiritual life and given me many new friends,” says Tucker. “God has sent people who have taught me so much about myself, and within this timeframe I have worked on many of my shortcomings. My patience and understanding have grown, and I have gained a tremendous desire to help as many kids as I can. This mission has become my life.”
Would you like to start your own chapter?
Find out more about how to reach children in your county by visiting imvo.org. For questions, requests for more information, or new chapter registration, contact:
Christine Magnuson is story developer for It’s My Very Own.