Janeen Holmes, Founder & CEO (courtesy of My Stuff Bags Foundation)
Approximately how many children have you helped throughout the years?
More than 660,000 children across America have received a My Stuff Bag since the program began.
(photo courtesy of My Stuff Bags Foundation)
Wow. That is an impressive stat but also sad that there are so many kids in need. Can you share some stories about how your bags have made an impact on children?
Here are a couple of excerpts from letters sent to us by partner agencies:
“Natalie was one young child I interviewed and examined this week, she had been removed from her home because of abuse, only to be re-abused by her foster parents. Now she was being taken to a third home. She had a few belongings in a plastic trash bag. I gave her one of your My Stuff Bags and her delight in receiving something that was just hers, and something no one could take away from her, lit up her face and she smiled big and bright. An amazing effect to witness”
“When Roman, age 4, came into our office, he was extremely distraught. This was his second detainment from his mother who was abusing drugs…Roman was crying and angry, refusing to let staff console him or guide him…One of our staff went into our storage room and brought out a My Stuff Bag. Roman looked suspicious, but opened the bag and began exploring its contents. When he saw his new stuffed animal, he immediately hugged it close and kept it by his side. He then sat quietly and, soon after, began to self-soothe through coloring. Eventually, we were able to gently lead him toward the car that would take him to his safe foster home.
I am moved by those stories. It is hard not to help when you hear stories like that. How can people get involved and help your organization?
There are three ways to help.
1.Collect and send or bring new items for kids of all ages that fit in a mid-sized duffel.
2. Volunteer time, whether it’s joining us at our Foundation Volunteer Center in Westlake Village, California, or from afar, making our “no-sew” fleece blankets, or conducting collections of new stuff with friends, family, community organizations, and schools.
3. Provide funding to help us ship My Stuff Bags to waiting children around the country.
Molina books donation (courtesy of My Stuff Bags Foundation)
What does the organization always need or never seem to have enough of?
Every My Stuff Bag has a blanket. We consider it the “soul” of the bag, so we always need more. From the beginning, most of our blankets have been handmade, knitted, crocheted, quilted, or the “no-sew fleece” blankets (directions on how to make these blankets can be found on our website, www.mystuffbags.org). We provide eight types of My Stuff Bags for boys and girls, babies, young children, children, and teens. We never receive enough items for teen boys (games, sports caps, and t-shirts) or babies (toys, teethers, clothing, and bottles). There are lots of ideas on our website.
How do you define purpose?
For me, purpose has meant recognizing a need in our world that I am passionate about, finding a way to meet it, and facilitating the participation of thousands of compassionate people. I am amazed every day at how many loving hands and hearts reach out to the children we serve through My Stuff Bags.
Janeen Holmes (courtesy of My Stuff Bags Foundation)
As the holiday season nears, what is your favorite gift to give others?
I love to give my grandchildren books and games we can read and play together.
Thank you, Janeen, for taking the time to chat with us. We are so grateful to be partnered with incredible organizations, like My Stuff Bags Foundation, who are bringing kindness to kids in their time of need.