Kids' Notes To Gift Donation Program Show The Most Basic Things Are Needed And Appreciated

"I am 6 years old. This Christmas, I want food."

Many of us are fortunate enough to prepare for the upcoming holidays by planning parties, cooking elaborate dinners, and buying fun gifts for our loves ones. But many families aren't as fortunate as they struggle to provide for their families. And for the more than 100,000 kids available for adoption in foster care right now, even just spending time with their families isn't an option.

Things of My Very Own Inc. is hoping to help these kids and their families. The non-profit organization based in Schenectady, NY "provides crisis intervention services to children impacted by extensive abuse and/or neglect," according to their website. "Our goal is to keep children together with non-abusive family members, and out of the foster care system, whenever possible."

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For those who are leaving abusive situations, the transition often happens suddenly and they're unable to retrieve their belongings prior to the move. Things of My Very Own Inc. works to provide children with some of the things they need such as clothing, school supplies, and toiletries as well as toys and books. 

"When I was 14 years old I was placed in the foster care system. A few months later, another foster child arrived. She was also 14 and came in wearing clothing that would have fit a small 9-year-old. I remember seeing her change for bed and noticed reddish-purplish welts on her skin. Her clothing had literally injured her," Rayn Boncie, CEO and founder of Things of My Very Own Inc., told Love What Matters. "I made a silent promise to her that day, that when I grew up, I would do something to help children like her and me."

In 2008, she was able to make good on that promise. She started Things of My Very Own, Inc. out of her home and hoped it would help to provide underserved children with what they need. "In 2010, we served 5,892 individuals. Now, we are in a 20,000 square foot building and I'm quite certain that this is going to be a record-breaking year," Boncie continued. 

This year, the organization launched an initiative to connect the children in Schenectady with their specific wishes this holiday season. They've asked them to write down their wish lists on gift tags, which are then picked up by people who want to donate gifts to the organization. The kids have asked for such simple things, it's heartbreaking to read their wish lists. 

"None of them list the year's hottest toy, instead, they list children's innermost hopes and dreams: 'a Dad', 'new clothes so I won't get picked on', or something as simple as 'a comb.' Perhaps most heart-wrenching, was the teen boy who asked for feminine hygiene products for his younger sister, so she wouldn't have to keep missing school," Boncie told Love What Matters. 

One boy simply wanted snacks for school so that he could stop being the only one in his class without anything to eat. An 11-year-old girl asked for a blanket and added that she's a "nice person" so that gift buyers would know she deserves it. A 6-year-old boy simply asked for food and an army man. 

"Every tag is connected to a child who wants to believe that someone in the world cares about their well-being," Boncie continued. "If we can show them for one moment that someone put their needs ahead of their own, maybe they will finally believe that what they have endured does not need to define who they grow up to be. For many of these children, we are the spark of hope that lights up their otherwise dark world. Many individuals and businesses have already stepped up, asking for tags; and for these children, we hope it is only the beginning."

People who are interested in donating items, but don't live nearby the organization, can have them shipped. For those who can't donate goods, or who want to do something additional, Things of My Very Own Inc. has volunteer opportunities. They just need to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

There are also many other organizations that hold donation drives for families during the holiday season, so there's plenty of other opportunities to donate locally. At least one parent was inspired to contact her child's school to see how she could help.

"This post prompted me to contact my daughter's teacher," the commenter wrote on the Love What Matters post. "I asked if there were children in her kindergarten class that were not bringing snacks everyday. She told me yes and also said I could send in snacks for her to give these children. Made a trip to the store today and have several boxes of snacks for her to pass out to make sure every kid has a snack. Thanks for waking me up."

While many have reached out to help for the holidays, Boncie hopes the generosity will extend beyond the season. "February through July or August are very, very difficult for families because the donations don't come in," she told WNYT. 

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