Michigan Foster Care Closet Provides for Kids in Need
By Matt Jensen, STN Reporter
Charity can be a difficult thing to get right. How do we, as a society, properly support the most vulnerable among us? And when we do, how can we be sure that our money, time, and donations are being put to their best use?
It’s difficult to think of a group that deserves unequivocal love and support more than foster kids. Often thrust into difficult circumstances they had no part in creating, these kids need homes, food, clothing, and comfort they cannot provide for themselves. According to Michigan Health and Human Services, our state has approximately 10,000 kids in foster care. They are often put into great homes with loving folks who sign up to be temporary caretakers and sometimes even provide a permanent home. Unfortunately, there can be unexpected costs and challenges that come with that.
That’s where Michigan Foster Care Closet (MFCC) steps up to help out. “Most kids who come into foster care come in with very few items, they are moved very quickly,” says Heather Wing, Vice President of the Board at MFCC. When Heather was a foster parent, she was unexpectedly asked to house two siblings. “These kids came in March and neither of them had socks and neither of them had coats.”
Heather remembers. “I called Jennie Sharp, our Agency Director, and she was able to get us in the next day to pick out clothes for these kids. They really appreciated being able to pick out their own clothing. In a time when almost everything is taken away from them and they have almost no say in anything, we try to give them some choice.”
Thanks to donations, MFCC is able to provide kids with “7 days” of clothes 4 times a year. That includes picking out their own jackets, toys, bags, and three pairs of shoes for various occasions. According to Heather, many of the kids in foster care have never had new shoes or clothes that fit properly. “We do our best to help these kids feel valued and feel seen,” Heather says.
Another side benefit Heather sees in MFCC is that it “provides a really cool community for foster parents. Fostering is such a strange and nebulous thing to be a part of. Due to child privacy, it's hard to see who other foster parents are, but when you’re at the Foster Closet, everybody accepts you and knows you.” This helps folks to work together and form a network of mutual aid and resources.
Impressively, MFCC is 100% Volunteer run. There are no paid positions and every dime the organization collects goes directly to the costs of providing a space for the kids and caretakers to shop as well as purchasing things that best serve the kids new such as car seats and shoes. Previously, MFCC had three locations, but recently they condensed into a single large space where they could house all of their goods and services. They officially opened their doors this October! While they mainly serve families from the Washtenaw area, they are open to people from all over Michigan and their goods are available to any kids currently in foster care thru a year after their adoption is finalized. Having a smaller staff means that they are only open by appointment three days a week.
MFCC welcomes donations of all kinds: volunteer time, goods, and money. They accept donations of new or “like-new” items on the second Saturday of each month. If you or your organization wants to run a donation drive, contact them to see how best you can team up! If you or someone you know foster children, make an appointment through their website at https://www.michiganfostercarecloset.org/, Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFCCA2/ or call them at 888-511-6322.
Photos in Gallery below by Matt Jensen