One backpack and one volunteer at a time, Adventure Bags, a nonprofit out of Barrow County, is serving children displaced from their homes across the state of Georgia.
Adventure Bags is partnering with agencies and organizations to give backpacks to children entering foster care, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters or to any child in a crisis situation.
“A lot of times when our kids are being displaced… they are being uprooted and are not able to take anything or very few items that they need,” Adventure Bags Executive Director Misty Manus said.
The backpacks are filled with hygiene products, books, stuffed animals and other care items to make sure that children feel comfortable and have something that they can call their own.
Manus still remembers the moment that a foster child in her home received his own adventure bag.
“He said, ‘do you mean this is mine and no one’s going to take it from me?’ I reassured him that that was the case, and for the next year as he was in my home, he carried that backpack around,” Manus said.
The organization has served over 45,000 children in almost all Georgia counties since their start in 2011.
One parent, Joseph Brown, has been fostering since 2020 and has seen the change Adventure Bags has made in foster children first hand.
“When children go into care, it’s very abrupt… for most of them, when they go into care, the only thing they carry is a trash bag full of their stuff. Just one trash bag. That’s it,” Brown said.
That one little bag, that one book bag, honestly gave them purpose. It gave them value. They felt seen and they felt wanted, just simply from a book back that was filled with practical, simple things that they needed.”
Arden Bakarich at Athens-Oconee Court Appointed Special Advocates says these bags help fill a void that isn’t the first priority of other organizations.
“The priority is let’s get this child out of this unsafe situation and find them somewhere to sleep tonight,” she said. “So I would say something like Adventure Bags can provide a much needed level of support and comfort to a child during a very trying and stressful time.”
Adventure Bags relies on volunteers and donations, which Manus says are vital for them to be able to continue their work.
However, Bakarich says that volunteers could be hard to come by because the foster care system hasn’t recovered from the pandemic.
Though, Adventure Bags still continues — making sure that no children in Georgia have to go without care and comfort.
Rachel Branning is a fourth-year journalism major at the University of Georgia.
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