MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services recently received 60 backpacks from Fostering Hearts Bag Drive to utilize for children coming into foster care.
The backpacks are for children ages newborn to teen and consist of an outfit, socks, underclothes, book, blanket, stuffed animal and bathroom necessities. Additionally, infant backpacks come with bottles, diapers and wipes.
Mackenzie Skarzenski, with the help of her mother Susan, is the founder of the organization.
“In Chautauqua County there are over 100 kids in foster care,” said Skarzenski, the 14 year old high school freshman who founded the group. “Most of them don’t get to take anything with them and leave everything behind. Please help us to help them by donating items or bags.”
Skarzenski’s got the backpack idea from friends of theirs who reside in Erie, who have been doing a similar fundraiser for years.
The family found that there is not a program like this in Chautauqua County and so they decided to create one.
Skarzenski, who donated some of the items using money she made working odds and ends jobs over the summer, said, “This is what I want to do for the holidays to give.”
Skarzenski and her mother contacted many businesses and organizations to get the word out, posted flyers, created a Facebook page and set up collection boxes at drop off points throughout the county to include Flowers by Anthony in Dunkirk, Silver Creek Optical, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Silver Creek, Cindy’s Flowers and Gifts in Clymer, and The Fabric Barn in Findley Lake.
The Findley Lake United Methodist Church has donated a room at their church to house the items.
“The bags donated contain winter clothing,” said Susan Skarzenski. “Mackenzie is already planning a second collection this spring to collect backpacks that will contain spring and summer clothes.”
“What an amazing act of selflessness and generosity from both Mackenzie and our community,” said Leanna Luka-Conley, Deputy Commissioner of Adult, Child and Family Services for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services.
Foster Care services in Chautauqua County provide out-of-home care for children in the custody of the Commissioner of Social Services. Foster care plays an important role in providing temporary, safe and nurturing homes to children when their parents are unable to care for them.
Children are placed in foster homes in situations where they have been removed from their own families because they have been abused and/or neglected or because other family problems exist that endanger their safety. The children may range from infancy through 18 years of age and may have special medical, physical or emotional needs; the children may belong to any ethnicity or race and be part of a group of brothers and sisters who need to remain together.
If you are interested in more information regarding Fostering Hearts Bag Drive, please visit their Facebook page at Fostering Hearts Bag Drive. For more information on Foster Care services in Chautauqua County visit www.chqhhs.com or our Facebook page, CCFosterParent.