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Something to call their own… Local business and church group partner to bring ‘Journey Bags’ to chil

A local business and a church group worked together in February to provide something for children living in foster care.

Alicia DeGeest, who helps with Celebrate Community Church’s adoption ministry, is friends with Lauriebelle’s Boutique owner Laurie Karlson. November was adoption awareness month.

“Laurie knew about that and said, ‘I want to do a portion of my November sales toward your next serving night with the Journey bags,’” DeGeest said.

Karlson said she likes to give back to the community through her business.

“A big part of this business for me has been giving back to the community in different ways. We have several people in our lives that have had their lives changed because of adoption. I thought it’d be something neat for us to do for giving back,” Karlson said.

Through that promotion at Lauriebelle’s, Celebrate was able to purchase 50 backpacks and supplies to go in them to benefit children in the foster care system in South Dakota.

“There’s all these kids that have nothing to their name, just giving them a bag full of things to call their own seems like a pretty simple thing to do,” Karlson said.

According to the South Dakota Department of Social Services, during fiscal year 2017, there was an average monthly number of 885 children in foster care and 265 in relative care in the state. From the Sioux Falls office, 235 children were placed with foster families and 78 were placed with relatives in January 2018.

In South Dakota, foster children range in age from zero to 18 years old. About 75 percent of children are between newborn and 11 years old.

When children are removed by law enforcement or the courts during emergencies, they may not have basic hygiene items, blankets or stuffed animals, clothes, etc., DSS said. The bags also give them something to call their own. Child Protective Services also provides clothing and personal items for children when they enter care.

DeGeest’s group used the money to buy 25 backpacks for girls and 25 backpacks for boys. They put pajamas, underwear, socks, diapers and pullups in the bags, depending on the age of the kids.

They also put in some hygiene items like razors, shampoo, face wash, deodorant and lotions.

“We were able to put in some wonderful items for these kids from necessary items they would need transferring into a foster home,” DeGeest said.

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