The journey to a foster home can be a dramatic event in a child's life.
"They (foster children) are going to a strange home, often with nothing but the clothes on their back," said Ed Akers, pastor at Victorious Living Church in Grove City.
The issue resonates at Victorious Living, where many church members, including Akers, have served or are serving as foster families.
"So when our outreach team was looking for a special project we could do at our church for the Easter season, this was an obvious choice," Akers said.
The church is raising funds and collecting donations and supplies to fill "Journey Bags" that will be distributed to several local agencies and given to youngsters as they move into a foster home.
The goal is to have 50 bags assembled by April 21, Easter Sunday, Akers said.
The bags are to include age-appropriate clothing, underwear, socks, pajamas, hygiene products, crayons and coloring books, books and a small toy or game, he said.
Specific items sought are diapers, pull-up underwear, baby wipes, baby wash and lotions, diaper cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, shampoo, brushes, combs, hair ties, pacifiers, one-piece sleepwear, socks, underwear, small stuffed animals, journals, pens, crayons, coloring books, small Bibles, feminine products, lip balm, small blankets and backpacks.
The bags will be assembled for infants to teenagers, Akers said.
"We're trying to provide them with the supplies to make their transition easier," said Zach Mikesell, the church's outreach activities director.
"It's not just the practical things they need, like clothing or a toothbrush, but the kind of things that will give them comfort and that they can call their own, like a toy or a book," he said.
A church member who works with foster children told Mikesell about one child who was given a teddy bear as he moved in to a foster home.
"She told me how that boy clung to that teddy bear," he said. "It gave him comfort during a confusing time."
The church will be distributing the completed bags to local agencies such as the Village Network, UMCH Family Services, CareGivers Helper and LifeStart, Mikesell said.
"They (agency representatives) gave us some good input about the kind of items children moving into a foster home would need," Akers said.
The timing of a child's move into a foster home can be sudden, especially if they are coming from a situation involving parents' drug use, domestic violence or abuse, he said.
"The foster family might not have had a chance yet to get the items their foster child is going to need," Akers said.
The church outreach team coordinates charitable projects and missions that allow the members to make a difference in the community, Mikesell said.
"We've been wanting to come up with some projects that we could do at Easter time, to make the season more meaningful," he said.
While Christmas is established as a season of giving, Easter should be a time of giving as well, Akers said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the project should visit vlcc.tv/giving or call Akers at 614-496-4217.