Darren W. Carter received his birthday wish and then some, and so did some children in need.
Carter, an organizer with our Cleveland Dads Group, asked friends and followers on Facebook in December to donate a backpack or duffel bag filled with clothes, toiletries or personal supplies to him in lieu of presents last month. His goal: collect 48 bags with gear to donate to a foster care organization to mark his 48th birthday.
Carter and his wife, Theresa, have been working with the local chapter of the national nonprofit Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth of America (SAFY) for the past few years, and are in the process of adopting a child through the group. What he has seen during that time got him thinking about how he could make a difference in some other foster children’s lives.
“When a child is taken from a given situation, the child is often given a black trash bag to put some belongings in,” he said in an interview with City Dads Group. “Most children are coming from a traumatic situation and now they have to put a little of their life in a trash bag. That seemed more traumatic to me. And if they are moved on in the system, they often carry that same trash bag.”
Carter asked for donations so the organization could instead give children something better to help them as they move into a new situation. As a result of his month-long campaign, mostly online, he and his wife last week were able to donate 97 bags and other supplies — more than double his goal.
“I’m overwhelmed at what you all did for us,” he said in a Facebook video thanking donors. “So overwhelmed at what you did for all those foster children.”
Ohio has more than 15,000 children living in its foster care system, a number that has been steadily on the rise in recent years in part because of the ongoing opioid crisis, according to media reports.
This is not the first year Carter has asked others to make donations for his birthday. In past years, he has asked for others to make monetary donations to suicide prevention groups, he said, having himself attempted to take his own life twice.
Here is a video Cater made of his family making the donation: