Packing 300 backpacks with donated essential items — and love

I Belong Bags urgently needs donations to fill backpacks for kids in foster care

By Emma Boyne | June 29, 2022 |5:00 am

Tanya Forbes says donations are urgently needed to meet the goal of donating 300 bags to children in foster care. Items such as toothbrushes, pyjamas, crayons, and books are accepted.

Photo: Submitted

They say part of being a person is helping others. Hoping to share that passion, Tanya Forbes created an organization that would help change the lives of children in foster care. 

I Belong Bags was created in 2018, inspired by students in Forbes’ daughter’s grade one classroom. 

With many children unable to find support in the foster care system, Forbes decided to create a program where she would collect donations to pack in a backpack for kids to carry their personal essentials with them. 

“Often kids leave home, sometimes in an emergency, with nothing but the clothes on their backs or even a garbage bag filled with their belongings,” Forbes says. “In an emergency situation, a child’s safety is a priority, so often they don’t get the time to collect their items.”

Forbes says she just felt the need to make a difference. 

“I have my own foster care story and it went a lot better than I think many kids do,” Forbes says.  

“But my foster mom would always mention how kids would come with nothing or a garbage bag — and I just felt that wasn’t right.” 

Comfort items and essentials 

Forbes packs backpacks full of essential and comfort items. Things like pyjamas, a toothbrush, toiletries, soft blankets, stuffing, and a fun activity to do.

Each backpack is crafted for specific age ranges from newborn to age 18 and aims to accommodate as many kids as possible. 

In order to continue packing backpacks, Forbes has organized a donation drive to help restock the items but they need more help. Since April, the demand for filled backpacks for kids in crisis has increased.

“We recently donated approximately 150 bags to four new organizations in the month of May alone and are in desperate need of donations to restock,” Forbes adds. 

With the donation drive ending on June 30, Forbes says they are still looking for more support from the community so they have extended it and are accepting donations year-round, though they urgently need items now. 

“As we are not a charity yet that can access large amounts of funding, we really rely on community support,” she says, adding they are quite short of their goal to fill 300 backpacks. 

This is a list of the items needed and information on how to help.

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Emma Boyne

Emma Boyne is an intern at Calgary Citizen.

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