Giving comfort to children in need is the aim of a ‘‘pyjama drive’’ being run by the newly established Dunedin branch of the charity Foster Hope. Local Foster Hope co-ordinator Juanita Willems is keen to gather as many pairs of new pyjamas as possible, as well as other items, to include in backpack kits which are given to children and young people as they go into foster care. At present there are 115 children, ranging from birth to 16 years, in care in Dunedin. ‘‘The first 48 hours are critical for a child in care — they often arrive at their foster home with only what they are wearing,’’ Mrs Willems said.
Foster Hope works closely with Child Youth and Family across New Zealand to provide practical support for its work with children in care through its ‘‘Kits2Kids’’ programme. Being able to give children a back pack containing useful items, ranging from nappies and bibs for babies through to deodorants and books for older children, could really help with the transition, Mrs Willems said. Adding toys and a new pair of pyjamas also helped the children to feel cared for, and took the pressure off foster carers who could focus on their emotional needs rather than rushing around shopping. ‘‘We want these children to know that someone out there cares about them, and hopefully receiving a gift like this helps them to feel better in a difficult situation,’’ she said.
Having herself been taken into foster care as a child, Mrs Willems is passionate about supporting Dunedin children in care. ‘‘It is very important to me to be able to help children in foster care any way I can — this project has real meaning for me.’’
People who wish to donate new pyjamas and other items to the Foster Hope Pyjama Drive are invited to do so through The Warehouse in Mosgiel, Mitre 10 in Mosgiel, Moyles Supermarket in Green Island, Les Mills in Dowling St, St Leonard’s School, and at level 2 of the New Zealand Transport Authority building in Moray Pl.
The pyjama drive continues until mid July. For more information, visit the Foster Hope website http://www.fosterhope.co.nz/ or find them on Facebook.