On Volunteers Day, Peter 'Wings' Wicks asks you to support a very good cause — without even needing to open your wallet.
This morning I awoke to find a message in my Facebook inbox – or whatever it’s called on Facebook – and I thought I’d tell you what it was about as I thought it was important, especially today.
This message was not the usual request from a potential Russian bride, or the member of Nigerian Royal Family wanting my bank account details so they can send me money, it was a little different.
The message was from a local lady named Kelly. Kelly and her husband Glen, are Crisis Foster Carers, the best of the best, and they run a registered charity organisation called Foster Care Angels.
Foster Care Angels are a little bit different to your average charity in the way that they utilise their limited finances. Rather than just redistributing funds, they instead provide children with what they call “care packages”.
The children that arrive as Crisis Foster Kids often come with nothing other than the clothes on their back. These are the kids who arrive with no physical baggage, but carry a tonne of emotional baggage. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for a kid to own absolutely nothing, I’m not talking about kids that don’t have a PlayStation, or an iPad, or even a bike — these kids often don’t even have a toothbrush. Those who care for these kids really are providing the most vital of community services.
Foster Care Angels provide “care packages” to the foster care agencies so they can be given to children who have absolutely nothing. These packages contain some personal effects like a toothbrush, a washer, some soap, as well as educational needs like pens, pencils and activity books, and of course a soft toy and some other age appropriate toys. Different age groups get given different packages, and all the packages for that age group have the same contents, so no child feels they got less than another when two or more children are in the same location.
Feedback from these packages has been overwhelmingly positive, including the story of one little seven year old girl who came from terrible circumstances. This poor little girl apparently was overcome with emotion at being given a hairbrush she could call her own, all her life she had wanted to be like other girls who could brush their own hair with their own brush. This goes to show the impact these packages can have on kids from such tragic backgrounds — they truly are priceless gifts.
With responses like that of the seven year old girl, you can imagine the joy that the kids must feel about having their own basic essentials and not having to beg or borrow.
Foster Care Angels are entirely self-sustained, they receive no funding at all from government at any level. Their local state member Nathan Rees is a strong supporter, as is their Federal Member Michelle Rowland, who even delivered a speech about the Foster Care Angels in Federal Parliament. The “Angels” raise all their funds from donations, and do a lot of fundraising activities themselves, I recently did the sausage sizzle out the front of a Bunnings with them, I even wore angel wings for the occasion, pink ones no less...
I thought it was important to share this with you today, as today is International Volunteers Day. Today is a day where we appreciate the work of volunteers and their value to the community. With so many governments slashing services at state level across the country, the role of the volunteer is becoming bigger as our reliance on them becomes greater.
Twenty seconds ain’t a great deal of time, and a couple of clicks of the mouse ain’t a great deal of effort — but this Christmas, it may just help Santa or the “Angels” put a toothbrush in the hands of a needy boy, or a hairbrush in the hands of a needy girl.
I doubt you will give a gift this year that is more valued, or greater appreciated.