Paintsville students foster change with backpack program

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 2:16 PM EDT
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT)-The Paintsville Elementary School Community Problem-Solving team created a backpack program, asking the community to donate items that will then go to kids in the foster care system.

The students have been working with Mountain Comprehensive Care Center’s Foster Care Program, and the local foster care agency in Johnson County, to find out what the true need is for the area.

“So, whenever we started learning that they needed more than a bag, they need so much more, we started looking into ‘How can we do this?’” said Brittany Hicks, Coach and Teacher. "

Students said it has been eye-opening to see the things kids in the system need.

“The kiddos hearts are so overwhelming. And the way that they care about the people in our community. They have realized that this is not just a problem that a few kids have,” said Hicks.

Many of the students were surprised to learn that kids who are taken into the system often only have a trash bag full of very few items, with no access to toiletries and other things we often take for granted.

“I didn’t know that these children, when they are getting kicked out of their homes, sometimes they leave with nothing,” said Andrew Kimbler, student and PES CmPS Member.

One student has direct experience with the system and wants to be part of the solution.

“I am a foster brother of two- a baby and a six year old- they barely had anything when they came to us.” said Isaac Freeman, PES CmPS Member.

So, the class has created a YouTube video, a list of supplies that community members can donate- from toiletries to blankets, etc.- and an Amazon wish list for other items to help extend the reach of the project and give a little comfort to kids in the foster care system.

“I can’t imagine being one of those foster kids and my mom not taking care of me,” said student Olivia Sorrell, PES CmPS Member.

Administrators say the community response has already been incredible, and they hope to see it continue to grow as it reaches more kids not only in Johnson County, but across the region.

“It’s wonderful to see all of these students reach out and we are so proud of the hours that they’ve put in. They’ve done that on their own. This isn’t a program they’re required to be a part of. They chose to do this,” said Principal Kristy Frazier.

The students also created partnerships with area churches in order to keep the donations coming through each month in an effort to make more of an impact even after the academic year.

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