In honor of National Foster Care Month, All Things Madison reached out to two active non-profits in the area that each support foster children and foster families. We discussed how they were each founded years ago, what some of their largest outreaches and services are, and how the community can be involved in helping progress forward the important work that each of these local non-profits does.
North Alabama Foster Closet
The North Alabama Foster Closet is designed to meet the physical needs of foster, kinship, and adoptive families by providing free essentials, such as clothing, shoes, furniture, gear, and much more.
Director Kimberly DuVall says they she and her volunteers attempt to touch base with families that have new foster child placements within 48 hours of the child arriving at the home.
“We try hard to support the entire family and make sure that placement homes have everything they need to support all of the children in a happy, safe environment.”
Families are also invited to use this link to submit a request for items that they may need for their foster child.
DuVall explains that “historically all of our items were gently used donations from the community, but we’ve now added an Amazon wish list for interested donors to easily shop from to better support these families with brand new items.”
One area of constant need is trendy clothing for teenagers.
She says that just last week, NAFC has helped five teenage girls receive outfits that were all sizes medium and large.
“So many kids come into their placement with just the clothes that they have on their back, so we try really hard to make sure these kids leave us with at least 10 outfits.”
DuVall says that the biggest need is for trendy female garments in sizes medium to 2XL. Interested donors should primarily shop for trendy graphic t-shirts, athletic shorts, and general basic clothing needs. New socks and underwear are also frequently in low supply at NAFC.
“Whatever these kids are going to want to put on and spend their summers wearing, that’s what we need.”
Toddler items (sizes 18 months – 5T) are also constantly in high demand.
“We serve a lot of children in these sizes,” shared DuVall.
She says that donations should be consignment quality that “you’d be proud to pass on to someone because it’s in excellent condition.”
NAFC also accepts furniture items and encourages community members that have spare bookcases, beds, etc. to contact them during business hours to share what they have to donate.
“Often we’ll ask the donor to hold onto the item until we have a family that needs it. This ensures that the item is only transported one time – from the donor straight to the recipient.”
NAFC was founded organically more than a decade ago after DuVall adopted a couple of her own foster children.
“I wanted to share my stuff with other foster families, and over time it all just accidentally evolved!”
NAFC has been set up at their Harvest-based warehouse for five years and is an official 501(c)(3).
North Alabama Foster Closet is always looking for volunteers and invites those interested to click here and fill out a form.
If you have items you’d like to donate, please do so during business hours only, which are Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
North Alabama Foster Closet
5510 AL-53, Harvest, AL 35749
Kids To Love
Kids To Love was founded as a passion project by former local news anchor and reports Lee Marshall.
Marshall, a former foster and adoptive child, desired to connect children waiting for a home with their future families, so she began a segment on-air to do just that.
Marshall began interviewing these children and having their stories told, and during this process quickly realized that so many of these children had needs that weren’t being met. She then began advocating for these children to have their needs met, and from there Kids To Love was born.
Nearly 20 years later, Kids To Love has exploded into a massive non-profit foundation that strives to serve foster children and parents via food drives, scholarship funds, school supply support, large warehouse operations, and so much more.
Communications Director Julie Reyburn shared that “People think that we have foster kids that they can just take off the shelf, but that’s not at all what we do.”
She continued to share that Kids To Love works directly with the Department of Human Resources to meet all kinds of needs.
One of Kids To Love’s biggest annual projects is their large school supply drive each summer.
“We want these kids to have what all of their peers have, and often their first interaction with us is when they receive that full backpack that’s ready to take to school.”
Additionally, Kids To Love works with the Rose of Sharon Soup Kitchen to distribute food boxes each Wednesday.
“In 2020, we served 6,357 kids through these boxes,” shared Reyburn.
Kids To Love also has a warehouse where they store brand new items such as clothing, toys, general hygiene projects, etc. Reyburn says they work hard at the warehouse to hunt down items that foster families share a need for.
“We had a foster mom recently share with us that her foster son really wanted a new pair of headphones after his pair broke. It made us feel really good that we were able to hunt down a donation and provide him with a pair. He was so happy.”
One of the largest productions that Kids To Love oversees is Davidson Farms, which is a group home for girls ages 10-19.
Reyburn says that there are opportunities year-round to volunteer and/or donate to the various initiatives with Kids To Love, from Christmas projects to scholarships to back-to-school backpacks and lunchboxes to food drives and so much more.
“In everything we do, we want these kids to feel like they are worthy of everything they receive,” shared Reyburn.
To learn more about Kids To Love, explore their website, which includes information about volunteering, Davidson Farms, the KTECH program, and much more. Follow along with Kids To Love on Facebook and Instagram too!
Kids To Love
140 Castle Drive, Madison, AL 35758