The beginning of a new school year is stressful enough without worrying where you’ll come home to. While many children check off the last items on their school supply lists, others might not be ready.
The Family Room is a nonprofit organization serving children in temporary home situations across Champaign-Urbana. On Saturday, volunteers spent the afternoon outside Walmart in Savoy — collecting backpacks, pencils, notebooks and more for foster kids. Donations go to agencies like the Department of Children and Family Services, who pass them along to case workers and families who need them.
“Often when they’re placed into foster care, there’s little to no notice that they’re being transferred,” The Family Room president Jenette Jurczyk said.
“Those families don’t always have all the supplies that they need, so we provide new home care kits.”
Jurczyk founded the organization several years ago after she was contacted by a friend with two foster children. She didn’t have enough clothing or supplies ready for the kids. Jurczyk, who has two young daughters, was happy to help.
“And then I found out again and again that same year, at least four times a friend of a friend was in need of clothing and items because they were taking in a child without any notice,” she said.
“I started asking — where’s the resource in this town? And I learned that Champaign didn’t have an existing, stable foster care closet or supply closet.”
Jurczyk gathered some friends from the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana and got to work. Now, they host several donation drives throughout the year — addressing the need for resources with “new home care kits.”
The kits don’t just have school supplies. They include clothing, hygiene products and comfort items like toys. Currently, DCFS reports more than 500 children are in temporary care in Champaign county. The Family Room hopes to make transitions easier for all of them. To help out or donate, visit thefamilyroomcu.org.