Cuddle Cases bring sense of belonging to foster children
IT'S the look on a little girl's face, the toddler receiving a present for the first time and the increased confidence in a 14-year-old boy.
They are the moments that foster carer Daphne Bryan remembers when she recalls her foster children's reactions to their Little Star Kids' Cuddle Cases.
Daphne has cared for dozens of children, including more than 30 in one year alone, and currently cares for two young girls, along with her grandson.
Little Stars Kids provides Cuddle Cases to children in foster care every month, through Child Safety Centres across South-East Queensland. Children entering foster care are often removed from their primary caregivers at short notice and leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
These children are often scared, alone, confused and unsure of what is happening to them.
They need to know that someone cares and be provided with some reassurance, hope and comfort. The cases include a teddy bear, quilts donated by Project Linus, toiletry bags, activity packs, pyjamas and a lunch box.
For older children there's a backpack filled with age-appropriate essentials.
"The cuddle cases give the children a little sense of ownership. It's something that belongs just to them, which is incredibly meaningful as they have to share almost everything else while they're in foster care," says Daphne.
"Most of these children have come from very poor circumstances where there is no money for food or anything. A teddy bear, a toothbrush, it's like gold to them. It's theirs and no one can take it away."
Where do the toys, drink bottles, quilts and crayon sets that make up the Cuddle Cases come from?
"GIVIT is crucial to our Cuddle Cases as the online platform enables us to connect with people who want to help children entering foster care, but don't know exactly what is needed to help," says Lisa Van Riel, the founding director of Little Stars Kids.
"GIVIT makes the process of obtaining donations seamless. It's enabled us to stock our Cuddle Cases and provide so much comfort at an extremely traumatic time."
"It warms our hearts to know our free online platform is helping find vital toys for children across southeast Queensland, who are often scared and desperately need a cuddly friend," GIVIT national manager Nikki Howson said.
GIVIT is a national online not-for-profit connecting those who need with those willing to give. Trusted Australian charities can request essential items on behalf of their clients. GIVIT matches their needs with public and corporate generosity, helping goods to reach the most vulnerable, impoverished and marginalised individuals.