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Help kids thrive: Volunteer with Kits for Kids to provide hygiene essentials for unhoused students.

Posted: Fri, Jun 9, 2023
Are you looking for a meaningful way to give back to the community this summer? Consider volunteering with Kits for Kids, a local charity providing hygiene products for children in need. For 17 years, Kits for Kids has assembled care packages for unhoused students in Central Oregon so they can start the school year with [...]

Are you looking for a meaningful way to give back to the community this summer? Consider volunteering with Kits for Kids, a local charity providing hygiene products for children in need. For 17 years, Kits for Kids has assembled care packages for unhoused students in Central Oregon so they can start the school year with basic necessities.

In June and July, Kits for Kids will host sewing days at the Bend First Presbyterian Church where volunteers can help assemble cloth bags to hold donated items. If sewing isn’t your skill, you can pick up pre-cut kits to assemble at home or donate funds to purchase supplies. Kits for Kids has a suggested shopping list for each bag, so volunteers can also help fill the bags with products like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and laundry detergent.

Listen to Anne Kelly, a Kits for Kids leader, discuss the impact of this charity on Bend area families. Anne has volunteered with the organization for 14 years and loves witnessing the community come together to support children in need. Hear the difference your time or dollars could make. Contact Anne at [email protected] or call the Bend First Presbyterian Church at 541-382-4401 to learn more about volunteering with Kits for Kids. Together, we can ensure all children start the new school year with dignity.

Ann Kelly Interview Kits4Kids Transcript

Carolyn 0:00
Hi, Anne, it’s great to be with you today.

Anne Kelly 0:03
Thank you. It’s nice to be with you, Carolyn.

Carolyn 0:07
Yes. And Kelly, you are part of a group. It’s called kits for kids. That is run as a charity through your church, and also a lot of wonderful volunteers who help out with this. And I’d really like our listeners to find out about this anybody, especially who loves to sew or wants to help in any other way. So tell us about kits for kids, you’ve been around for quite a while.

Anne Kelly 0:36
Well, kids for kids has been around, this is the 17th here. And we’ve gone through a number of leaders. And currently there are three of us that are working together to buy and schedule. And so and the thing that the thing that started us is that there are a lot of school kids who don’t live in their own family homes. unhoused, they might be in someone else’s house, or a car or a tent. And in that situation, it’s really hard to have access to all of the hygiene products that you need, you need laundry, so you need shampoo, you need paper towels. So 17 years ago, the Smiths in our church started trying to work with the Family Access Network, people in the schools to see what could we do, what would be the most helpful thing to do. And they came up with a shopping list. And we’re still using the same shopping list, it has been really effective, we also thought that it would be nice to sell bags, fabric bags that we put the products in, and then later, they can be used for lots of other things. I made up some bags like that and gave them to my grandkids and they use them for overnights and you can use them for a laundry bag. Or when when you don’t have your own house. You need storage all the time. So we kind of we try to make them pretty so that people can enjoy them. And so they can feel that someone cares about them. And so during the summer, we put together these kits, and at the end of the summer, the fan people come with trucks and take the bags and put them in storage. And they take them out during the year and give them to families. Sometimes they send them home with kids on the bus. Sometimes the parents come in sometimes the fan advocates go to the home and take them. We have made as many as 1000 Some summers, this So yeah, that’s quite a few. And this summer, we’re only doing 500. So that is a whole lot more doable, although we have always made our goal. And we really think that it’s an important and fun thing. People in the church, take a bag and take their grandkids shopping at the Dollar Tree mostly and fill the bag and bring it back. And I I did that with my grandkids. So we would go and pick out which bag Do you like and take them and it shouldn’t be a family event?

Carolyn 4:14
Sure. I think that sounds like a great thing because then it helps young children to see the value. And also just that feel good kind of reaction to doing something nice for somebody else. And especially when they know what’s going to another child.

Anne Kelly 4:31
Yes. I’ve always thought that that was a really good thing. We tried to get people to take the bags, individually or as a family. But we also do bag fills where we have donations of funds than we will buy in bulk. And we’d like to put together 200 And a throw And that’s quite doable. We can do that in an hour. We can put kits together 200 of them and that sounds really good. We have some of our bags go to Harney County, some Coachella pine, or Madras or Culver. Redmond Prineville does their own, they came over and visited with us, oh, must be 10 years ago. And we talked about what we do. And they said, okay, and then as far as I know, they have the same shopping list, but they, they do their own. So that’s, that’s a good thing. Yes. Well, from your description of what your group does, it

Carolyn 5:50
sounds to me like you have need of people that are capable of doing different things. Some of them, of course, would be sewing, and theirs would be donating so that there’s money to buy the materials. And others of them would go shopping, maybe with somebody in their family or on their own. So first of all, how many people have do you have that are doing sowing of these kits in the summer as a rule?

Anne Kelly 6:19
Well, I would say, maybe as many as as 10. People make a significant number. But some people come and get just a couple and take them home and fill those instead of taking a finished bag to take on I have one friend who I think she sews two or three a day. Wow. We put together kits which have all the pieces. Oh, okay. And so she takes a box of those kits. And she puts together two or three a day of those. Until gardening? Kicks? Oh,

Carolyn 7:04
yes, well, and you showed me a lot of the pieces that you have personally. So you must have people who were doing the cutting of all this material to the correct size and specifications. So that then people can take them and either work on them at home or come and work together as a group on these kits in sewing them.

Anne Kelly 7:25
That’s right, we’re going to in June, we’re going to have three sewing days on Thursday mornings,

Carolyn 7:33
and those are going to be on the eighth and 15th of June, from 930 to 12 o’clock at the bend First Presbyterian Church.

Anne Kelly 7:43
And so the kits are, are already cut. And together, we pin them together. And so they just can take it and, and go, you know, take out the pin. And then they have the pieces and they just write. And we have instructions we have at the church, we have a table that has kits for people to take home and instructions for how to make it into a bag. We have bags, and then we have a shopping list. And they’re all on the table there just as just when you come in the church, and so anybody could come in and take a bag and shopping list. Go and do it. And

Carolyn 8:31
and this is yeah, this is a band a First Presbyterian. So I’m and that’s on Eighth Street, isn’t it? Just across the street from the high school from ben pi?

Anne Kelly 8:40
Actually, it’s Ninth Street becomes ninth at the roundabout.

Carolyn 8:46
Yes, it does. And would people be able to come and pick up those components or directions or whatever, any day of the week? Or are they only out on the table on Thursdays?

Anne Kelly 8:58
They can’t they can come Sunday through Thursday. The church is not open Friday and Saturdays. So yes, they

Carolyn 9:11
will surely you must have several people who are doing the cutting out along with you. I couldn’t imagine being able to cut that much stuff without getting a cutting hand cramp.

Anne Kelly 9:22
Oh, well, it’s it is fun and people do. There are other people that cut Yes,

Carolyn 9:29
there are there that they help out as well. Right. And all of this is just such a wonderful commitment to our community. And yes, we are getting more and more people whose children are in great need of these things. So it’s nice to have that as an option for our schools. And of course fan has always played a huge role in helping with identify and contact the families that need these pretty badly, isn’t that right?

Anne Kelly 10:01
It is very true fan is a great organization.

Carolyn 10:06
Yes, yeah, they have been for a number of years in this school district, I noticed on your webpage about the kits for kids, that you’ll figure that each bag can be filled with about 12 to $15 in products. So if a person wanted to donate money, of course, they could go on the webpage to and look for a place where they could donate. And the website address for Ben First Presbyterian. Do you know that right offhand?

Anne Kelly 10:38

Carolyn 10:42
Okay. All right. Well, I’m looking that up. And it looks like it says band F And the F and the P stands for First And then your group is listed under worship, I believe, is that right? I would

Anne Kelly 11:00
think it would be under mission.

Carolyn 11:02
Oh, under mission, okay. Well, they might have to take a look for that. But yeah, there’s, there’s a way for them to get to that. And then they can sign up to help out. Or they can decide they want to donate. And I even opened up the donate button. And it when you do that from the kits for kids segment of the First Presbyterian website, it goes directly to kits for kids. So a person doesn’t have to be hunting around for that. And they can go online and give if that’s how they feel they can best contribute to this. So again, yes, yeah. And so you so every single week for a while? Yes. Did you say you started in June.

Anne Kelly 11:53
I saw all year. part time jobs.

Carolyn 11:58
Right. But the kits themselves are are sewn and assembled and ready for people to start getting in gear to fill them up so that the schools can have them first thing in the fall. Right?

Anne Kelly 12:09
Right. We we have our kickoff. Right about now, this is way close to the beginning. And halfway through August, the fan people will come and pick them up the whole summer.

Carolyn 12:27
Good. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to have this interview with you now, because I had been told you are really starting to gear up for the summer. So all of that work that people can see is crammed into just a couple of months, June and July and Partway into August. So it’s great to have a bench of people. When when you work as a group to sew the bags. Do do people come to the church? Is there a way to set up there? Or is it all done individually or in small groups in your homes because there’s a sewing machine?

Anne Kelly 13:00
Well, it takes portable sewing machines if you’re going to go together as a group. So we’re going to have three Thursdays when people come and do it at the church. Sometimes people have done it as a group at home but mostly it’s it’s mostly individual people, you know, just take a take home three or four and so on love it takes about I can do one in 20 minutes from my kit to a bag and 20 minutes.

Carolyn 13:38
Well, that’s nice because I have absolutely no aptitude for sewing, I’d have to say I would be no good except for maybe taking them out to to fill them up or to be able to contribute with some materials. I noticed you have kind of a separate page to that is another portion of the kits for kids and that is providing the basics for homeless youth. And I wonder if that’s a little bit different to you. I think that that is geared towards more than middle school high school aged kids, or is this for any of them?

Anne Kelly 14:14
I’m not sure what you’re what you’re seeing. Possibly it’s loft Castle Family Services. Uh huh. And our church does support that but it’s not kits for kids doesn’t do anything for though

Carolyn 14:32
okay. Yeah, I see that there are three women who are mentioned on this page to to contact about that and it is does not include your name. So it must be a whole different group that’s part of the church work that they’re they’re trying to make sure that is done for our community so well and you agreed to allow your email to be shared with people so they can contact You if they’re interested, what is your email?

Anne Kelly 15:04
eekmr at

Carolyn 15:06
All right, that will good. That’s that’s one that if they see it or or you know, listen to this again, they can quickly write that down. And we’ll make sure to repeat that again before the end of our interview. Also, if they go to the Bend First Presbyterian web page, they could contact the office, the church office and get messages to you through them too, wouldn’t they? Oh, yeah, that would be fine. Yes, yes. And let’s see, I think let’s, I’m going to look at that, because we can also share that their phone number at the church office at Ben pres First Presbyterian is 541-382-4401. So that’s another way that they can find out how to get in touch with you and and the church. office is open. You said Sunday through Thursday?

Anne Kelly 16:09
Yes, yes. There’s a table in the in the commons right inside the door that has the stuff on

Carolyn 16:20
it. So and they can just drop in anytime and pick things up off of that table.

Anne Kelly 16:25
They can. It might be nice to wave to the secretary. Softer. Yeah. So she realizes that there’s okay to do it. But yeah,

Carolyn 16:36
right. Yeah. And I noticed that the office is closed from noon to 1pm. Does that mean that the church is locked up during that hour? Or it’s just that the Secretary has not yet?

Anne Kelly 16:48
No, I don’t know for sure. Okay. It might they’re a better better to be not trying, I

Carolyn 16:56
was gonna say, Yeah, remember noon to one is probably not the ultimate time to go in and try to get in touch or find out about any of this and become involved with it. So people have three choices. They can either sew or maybe even cut pieces for the kids. They can sew the kits together during the summer, they could volunteer to pick them up and fill them up. And oh, when there is a list that you have for things that should go into the bags, right to make it uniform. So if they pick up a bag, or those lists right there along with the bags, so people can go on the table. Yeah, good. All right. So yeah, that’s the second way. So either cut out pieces, so the bags together, pick them up and fill them up, or they can pick them up to deliver somewhere, or they can also donate online to help out with that. Yes. Sounds like a great thing. How many years? And have you been involved with this group?

Anne Kelly 18:01
Oh, I’ve probably been involved about 14. But they started. This is the 17th year. Wow. So

Carolyn 18:09
you’ve been in on the ground floor and keep it rolling all of these years, just to make sure that those things are available. And we thank you for that as it’s a wonderful gesture of kindness and also generosity.

Anne Kelly 18:24
Well, thank you, Carolyn. And thank you for getting the word out.

Carolyn 18:28
Oh, glad to do it. Yes. And we’re going to repeat your email one more time so that people can maybe write that down if they didn’t catch it the first time. Okay,

Anne Kelly 18:40
eekmr at

Carolyn 18:46
Yes. Right. And otherwise, they can go to the band, First Presbyterian webpage to and be able to get some information off of that. So thank you. And I’m so glad we had a chance to talk and I’m looking forward to people hearing about this. So if they want to do something for you, they’ll know how to do that.

Anne Kelly 19:07
I’ll say thank you, Carolyn. That’s great.

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