Nonprofit helps foster children feel at home
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jul 26, 2013 | 4227 views | 1 1 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tassana S., a Tracy woman who is fostering two teenage girls, looks at the contents of a customized storage bin filled with clothing and other personal items for a 13-year-old girl. Volunteers and leaders from Case For Kids, a nonprofit group founded in January, delivered bins to two local foster families on July 18.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Tassana S., a Tracy woman who is fostering two teenage girls, looks at the contents of a customized storage bin filled with clothing and other personal items for a 13-year-old girl. Volunteers and leaders from Case For Kids, a nonprofit group founded in January, delivered bins to two local foster families on July 18. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Foster mother Janell B., a Mountain House resident, looks at a blanket, clothing, shampoo and books that were contained in a storage bin for one of her four foster children, ages 9, 8, 4 and 18 months. She called the donation “a blessing.” The boxes were supplied by Case for Kids, a local nonprofit that provides personal items and clothing to local foster children in customized plastic storage bins.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Foster mother Janell B., a Mountain House resident, looks at a blanket, clothing, shampoo and books that were contained in a storage bin for one of her four foster children, ages 9, 8, 4 and 18 months. She called the donation “a blessing.” The boxes were supplied by Case for Kids, a local nonprofit that provides personal items and clothing to local foster children in customized plastic storage bins. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Case for Kids nonprofit founder Lori Souza (left) checks the contents of a storage bin that was designed and packed for one of four foster children in the care of Janell B. (right), a Mountain House resident, on July 18. Janell B. and her daughter Courtne received bins for each of the foster children from Souza and her team of volunteers.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
Case for Kids nonprofit founder Lori Souza (left) checks the contents of a storage bin that was designed and packed for one of four foster children in the care of Janell B. (right), a Mountain House resident, on July 18. Janell B. and her daughter Courtne received bins for each of the foster children from Souza and her team of volunteers. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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The holiday season arrived early for a group of six children and their foster families who received storage bins containing clothing, books and other personal items from a local nonprofit on July 18.

One foster mother, identified as Janell B., described the delivery as “Christmas in July.”

She recently had an 18-month-old boy move into her Mountain House home and has three other foster children, ages 4, 8 and 9.

“That’s a blessing,” Janell said. “(The children) came with a couple of outfits and holes in their shoes. It’s nice for Case for Kids to do something like this.”

She expected the children to smile when they saw their names on their new storage bins.

Started in January by Tracy resident Lori Souza, Case for Kids pairs local foster families with volunteers who decorate and fill 90-quart plastic boxes for their foster children.

“I realized there’s a need and Tracy loves to give,” Souza said.

Volunteers purchase two new sets of clothing appropriate for the child’s gender and age, Souza said. The remainder of the items in the case — including toiletries, sheets and a homemade blanket — are contributed by the organization.

Souza said the idea for Case for Kids came from her experiences with foster families and the knowledge that foster children often arrive at a new home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.

To date, the organization has given customized storage bins to 25 foster children.

“It’s almost like a welcome package to the community,” Souza said. “When they move into a stranger’s house, they own nothing. This is the one case they own with their own stuff, and it means the world to them.”

Because the state protects the identity of foster children, the last names of their foster families cannot be revealed, Souza said. Interviews with the children were not permitted.

Tassana S., a foster mother who recently took in two teenage girls, ages 13 and 14, said the bins represent a new start for the girls.

“For the most part, they don’t have anything, or it’s used — nothing of their own,” she said. “One came with a little bag that they gave her at the assessment center.”

She was accompanied by one of the girls, who Tassana S. said was excited when she first saw her personalized storage bin and couldn’t believe the box and its contents were for her.

As they delivered the bins, volunteers had a chance to meet the foster parents.

Volunteer Amy Hagler, accompanied by her mother, Laura Hagler, helped shop for one of the teenagers. The 12-year-old thought “it would be cool” to participate in the program.

“I like helping people,” Amy said. “I got her the outfits.”

Laura Hagler said the pair made their purchases during a recent back-to-school shopping trip.

Peggi Johnson said her 12-year-old daughter, Carly Johnson, took on the task of helping the 8-year-old girl who is fostered by Janell B.

Johnson, who fosters newborns for the county, said the project was perfect for her and Carly, because they both love to shop and work on crafts. They plan to contribute more bins in the future.

Souza said the name of the nonprofit was inspired by the titles of two books by her favorite Christian author, Lee Strobel: “The Case for Faith” and “The Case for Christ.”

For information about Case for Kids: 855-8010 or www.caseforkidstracy.org.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

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advocate4tracykids
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July 26, 2013
I'm Lori Souza, founder of Case For Kids -

Thank you Denise and Tracy Press for writing this article and recognizing all of the wonderful things our organization is doing.

To readers, we only serve foster children in Tracy and Mountain House. Anything and everything you donate will go directly back into OUR community. If you are in the community and you would like to donate or volunteer, please contact us. As a new organization, we are always in need PLEASE.

Lastly, I'm very proud of how Case For Kids represents and serve our city. Although the article only mentions my name, there is an entire board behind me that makes this organization a success. None of this is possible without all of them. Fundraising and starting a nonprofit is not for the faint of heart. It's been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life & literally impossible without strong support. I'm so blessed to have so many amazing people believe in my vision and support it. Thank you to all of the board members and volunteers that put in their own time, effort and money to help so many foster children You are all a true blessing!



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