A dufflebag of difference

By Blythe Alspaugh - [email protected]

SIDNEY — For the second year in a row, a local organization is using duffel bags to make a difference.

“It goes beyond just toothbrushes and toothpaste. It gives a sense of hope,” SAFY Foster Parent Recruiter Sylvia Roop said. “When our case coordinators go out to the home within those first couple of hours, it’s kind of like a conversation starter.”

SAFY is a non-profit foster care agency that recruits, trains and licenses foster parents in the area. In addition to this, SAFY offers on-site mental health services to the children they place in foster homes, which includes trauma healing, parent skills building, school success mentoring, and teaching coping skills. SAFY’s Sidney location currently works with foster families in Shelby, Miami, Auglaize, Mercer, Logan, Champaign and Darke counties.

According to Roop, SAFY has had foster parents who have been licensed for years and have had more than 20 children come into their home, with maybe two of those children having their own bag, hygeine items, and other necessities. SAFY’s duffel bag fundraiser, which began last year, aims to provide foster youth coming into new homes with something to call their own.

“It was a kind of eye-opener that these duffel bags are important. It’s so important because, we have no doubt that our foster parents can provide hygeine products and blankets and puzzles. We know they can provide those things, but when you’re a kid walking into a stranger’s home, and they show you everything, it’s something that you have to ask for — it’s not your stuff. This duffel bag is something that they don’t have to ask for. They know where it’s at, and it’s something to call theirs,” Roop said.

This years’ goal is to fill 50 duffel bags — the same goal that Roop had set last year, and exceeded with a total of 70 duffel bags donated and filled, thanks to community generosity. While some supplies are leftover from last year, the agency is in need of replenishing their supply for foster youth coming through the agency. Currently, Roop has filled one duffel bag.

While similar items from last years’ fundraiser are being requested, such as baby wipes, blankets, body wash, deodorant, diapers size 5/6, feminine hygiene products, hair brushes, headphones, shampoo and conditioner, wash cloths, water bottles and, of course, duffel bags, Roop has also added puzzles and fidget spinners to the list.

“In all reality, that child is surrounded by strangers and might not want to talk about what’s happening or talk about how they’re doing. They might just want to sit in that bedroom and do a puzzle,” Roop said.

This year, SAFY is partnering with the Young Professional Connection of Shelby County in order to collect duffel bags and items needed for foster youth. The Young Professional Connection is hosting donation boxes at businesses around Shelby County through April 27. Those interesting in donating to the fundraiser can drop off donations at the following locations:

• Sidney Alive, 109 S. Ohio Ave., Sidney;

• Sidney Body CARSTAR, 175 N. Stolle Ave., Sidney;

• WiseBridge Wealth Management, 411 W. Russell Road, Sidney;

• Ruese Insurance Agency, 100 S. Main Ave., Sidney;

• Emerson Wagner Realty Co. Inc., 122 W. Court St., Sidney; and

• Ashley Himes State Farm Insurance, 670 N. Vandemark Road #101, Sidney.

Donations can also be dropped off at SAFY’s Sidney location at 1065 Fairington Dr., Sidney, as well as CrossFit Cave located at 715 S. Sugar St., Celina. Additionally, SAFY has an Amazon wishlist available at https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/1UKBGY8BG5E8N/guest-view. Purchased items will be delivered directly to SAFY.

The community is also invited to the Young Professional Connection of Shelby County’s April Luncheon that will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on April 28 at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA. Pre-registering is requested and can be done at http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=rw4axyiab&oeidk=a07ej515q9i9d2d0bdd.

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825