Imagine having to leave your home and family with no notice, with only the clothes on your back and a personal item or two stuffed into a garbage bag.
Thatâ€™s exactly what happens to many children suddenly placed into our foster care system. And itâ€™s why Paul Snyder III, deacon of St. Mary Parish in Swormville, and his wife, Susan, have started a special mission to help.
Since last year, the Snyders, with the help of the community, have made more than 700 "Care Cases" for local children placed into foster homes. Filled with pajamas, a blanket, stuffed animal, personal care items, and a book or journal, each case, or duffel bag, is customized for boys and girls in different age groups. They are outfitted with reaffirming tags stating, "You matter" and "This belongs to:" where the childâ€™s name can be added. Care Cases are distributed to foster care agencies, whose social workers distribute them to the children.
"We wanted to give them some dignity and let them know someone cares about them," said Susan Snyder. "This is a difficult time in their lives and weâ€™ve met a lot of people through the foster care system who went through the same thing and explained to us what this has meant to them."
The Snyders are thankful to community members and businesses who have generously backed their initiative with time and donations. There are currently 974 foster care children in Erie County, ranging from birth to 21 years old. Michele Pfeffer, director of children services, says the Care Cases are just what children and teens need at a traumatic time in their lives.
"When you remove a child from their home, they will grab onto something thatâ€™s theirs and this is what [Care Cases] try to do for kids. Itâ€™s never easy, but this makes it a little easier for them to have something thatâ€™s their own â€” something that no one will take away from them," said Pfeffer.
If you would like to support the Care Cases of WNY mission, call 465-8917 or visit Care Cases of WNY on Facebook to learn more.