Businesses and employees across Central Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom came together to support the foster children and foster families of the Barre, Newport and St. Johnsbury Department for Children and Families districts and made a huge impact this holiday season.
In November and December, over 270 gifts were collected for children and families from employees and individuals at local participating organizations within Green Mountain United Way’s service region including Northfield Savings Bank, Noyle Johnson Group, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, VSECU, Cacacio Heating, Connor Contracting, Inc., TD Bank’s Barton Branch, JCPenney’s Berlin Store, Edward Jones (statewide offices), and the members of the First Congregational Church of Berlin. Additionally, Weidmann Electrical Technology sponsored the Holiday Drive with a corporate gift of $400 allowing for the purchase of additional gifts to support foster children and their foster families this holiday season.
Employees “sponsored” a foster child, whose identity was kept confidential to protect the child and their family, or foster family and purchased a gift or two, like a book and pajamas, for the child. These gifts were collected and organized by the Green Mountain United Way staff and volunteers. Downstreet Housing in Barre generously donated storage space for gifts so that it was convenient for staff from DCF to retrieve gifts for the Barre District. Gifts for Newport and St. Johnsbury were delivered to DCF Coordinators by Green Mountain United Way Tatum’s Totes Coordinator Pam Bailey.
“The incredible generosity of people in our region makes this entire process possible. This the second year we have done this and again I was blown away by the caring and generosity that our community offered to these children. Foster children are in need of caring and love and the families who take them in are so generous, it was wonderful to see that generosity met by all of these community members through these gifts. This is what makes this time of year so special.” Said Pam Bailey, Green Mountain United Way’s Director of Operations who coordinates the Tatum’s Totes program in the Barre, Newport, and St. Johnsbury DCF districts.
In addition to the immense generosity of hundreds of employees throughout the region supporting foster children with gifts, several businesses held Tatum’s Totes item drives in conjunction with the Holiday Drive.
Items donated through this backpack drive include toys, blankets, socks, diaper bags and diapers, backpack, water bottles, books and hygiene items like hair brushes and tooth brushes, as well as school supplies. These items will be used throughout the year to pack backpacks for children of all ages as they transition into their new homes. Edward Jones offices came together at their Annual Meeting in November to give items valued at over $2700. This is the single largest donation of items Green Mountain United Way’s Tatum’s Totes received in 2017.
“These businesses deserve special recognition for going above and beyond and helping this program thrive.” Stated Carrie Stahler, Director of Funding and Program Development at Green Mountain United Way. “We are so appreciative of the partnership of businesses like Union Mutual, Connor Contracting, VSECU, and particularly each of the Edward Jones offices. These item drives help to keep the program strong throughout the year.”
In 2017 over 65 fully-stocked backpacks were given to children transitioning into foster care in Barre, Newport and St. Johnsbury districts. This is an increase over 2016. Green Mountain United Way is grateful for the community support that allows them to continue to support these children.