Three years ago Kassandra-Lynn Gonsalves read a story about foster children who drag their belongings in a garbage bag from home to home every time they move, often losing their possessions in the process. “These kids, they have nothing,” says Gonsalves, now 12. “It got me upset.”
So the Fairhaven, Mass., seventh grader organized a barbecue and, with a group of friends, decorated 100 pillowcases with fabric markers and then filled each one with an address book—”to keep in touch with family and friends,” Gonsalves says—a journal, pens and a stuffed animal. “They could use the pillowcase to carry their things,” says Gonsalves, who grew up without a father and was raised by her mother, Lori, 34. Since then, she has donated more than 1,000 of her Good Night, Sleep Tight pillowcases, mostly to the New Bedford Department of Social Services, which has distributed them to foster kids throughout the state.
One of those children is Amy, 12, who entered the system a week ago. “I use the journal every night and I love the stuffed horse—he is so cuddly,” says Amy, whose comments were relayed by a family-support advocate. Adds Samantha, 10, who is in her fourth foster home in three years: “This makes me feel like I can start a new beginning.”
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