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Book bags packed for local foster care children

August 19, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Going through the process to adopt two of their three children, Wes and Martha Richardson learned a sad fact: most of the children in the foster care system use garbage bags to carry their belongings from placement to placement.

In 2012, after their adoption was finalized, they started working to help the children still in the system by starting a backpack program.

Thursday, employees at HIMG helped the Richardsons pack 66 L.L. Bean monogrammed backpacks with school supplies, toiletries, a new pair of shoes, a watch, a laundry bag, a blanket and an Amazon Fire tablet. The blankets were donated by HIMG and the shoes were paid for with help from Glenn’s Sporting Goods.

“Every pocket is a surprise,” said Martha Richardson as she showed the HIMG staff how to fill up the bags.

The backpacks will go to teenagers at the Golden Girl Group Home in Kenova and with CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates.

HIMG raised more than $5,000 for the project. Mark Morgan, president and CEO of HIMG, said he wanted to team up with the Richardsons after Wes and him met at a Leadership West Virginia conference last year.

“We did (a backpack program) as our (Leadership West Virginia) class project,” Morgan said. “We have done, in years past, back-to-school packs for different organizations and we hadn’t done it last year. I wanted to reintroduce it and I wanted to work with Wes because it’s a great project, it’s not something people think about — foster children not having anything to carry their stuff in. It was eye-opening to me when we did the project last year.”

Along with the other items in the backpack, HIMG staff wrote cards and notes of encouragement to include.

“I hope it means a lot to them because so often, especially with the opioid epidemic we’ve been in, these kids have been forgotten in so many ways,” Morgan said. “It’s so important to give back to them because these kids are our future and we’ve got to take care of them.”

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook@TaylorStuckHD.