TRACY -- Case for Kids, a new nonprofit, is hoping to help bring needed supplies and comfort to children in foster care.
Tracy resident Lori Souza was inspired to start it after hearing from foster parents about children placed in foster care showing up with only a change of clothes tucked inside a plastic garbage bag.
"My friend Denise (a local foster parent) called me one day after she received a newborn and 5-year-old foster child that came with barely anything," said Souza. "The newborn came with only one can of formula and two diapers. The 5-year-old little girl came with two pairs of clothes and it was three days before the start of kindergarten. My friend had nothing for this little girl that was about to start school.
"After Denise told me this, I posted some requests on Facebook and the outpouring was amazing," Souza said. "Being a Christian has taught me to believe in life and helping take care of orphans is an extension of that."
Now up and running, Case for Kids is currently helping more than 180 children. The group provides each of them with a personalized bin with three new pairs of clothes with tags, new bedding and other needed personal supplies. For infants, Case for Kids stocks their personalized bins with diapers and other new baby supplies.
"These bins with the child's name on them gives the child ownership of something," said Denise Hayes, a foster parent in Tracy. "Many times these kids are in a whirlwind and they come to us with a black plastic bag -- if anything at all. You can see the excitement in their eyes when they receive these bins and they see their name on it and what's inside. The kids are proud to have something of their own."
"Last year there were 1,170 children in foster care here in San Joaquin County alone," said Souza. "There were 1,630 children in Alameda County. All in all, there were 56,138 children in foster care in California. We can't all be foster parents, but we can all help."
Case for Kids is currently offered in the Tracy area, but Souza hopes to expand countywide.
The group has about 20 volunteers and is asking the public for donations of new clothes with tags, new bedding, new blankets and volunteers to help assemble and deliver the personalized bins.
"The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) students are getting involved with this," said local D.A.R.E. Officer Steve Abercrombie. "The D.A.R.E. curriculum teaches the students about empathy, and this allows them to experience it firsthand. This is a great opportunity for the students to assist fellow children (who) are less fortunate."
Case for Kids will host its first fundraiser, a motorcycle poker run, on March 30 at El Pescadero Park in Tracy. There will be a DJ and a noon barbecue following the run, which starts and ends at the park. Tickets are $25 per bike and $5 per passenger. The ticket price includes the meal, a hand of poker and the bike run. There also will be raffles throughout the event. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
For details on Case for Kids, go to www.caseforkidstracy.org.
What: Motorcycle poker run benefit
When: Registration 9 a.m. March 30; barbecue at noon after the run
Where: El Pescadero Park, Grantline Road and Parker Avenue, Tracy
Cost: $25 per bike, $5 per passenger
Details: www.caseforkidstracy.org or 209-640-5804