ORIGINALLY POSTED IN THE ADVISOR & SOURCE NEWSPAPERS — NOVEMBER 14, 2013
BY: NICOLE TUTTLE
Given the volume of stacked boxes filled with knitted blankets, mittens, scarves and hats stuffed into a room of the Marvin Blank Senior Center in Macomb Township, one might easily assume that the Chicks with Sticks knitting group was preparing for a trip to the North Pole. And they are, sort of.
The Chicks have decided to play Santa this year to Friends of Foster Kids, donating the handmade items of its 36 members on Nov. 21. Chicks with Sticks founding member Carol Milkowski said the group decided to donate to a single charity at Christmas in August, when a member brought in a pamphlet from Friends of Foster Kids.
“It seemed like it was meant to be for us,” Milkowski said. “We do so much knitting and crocheting, it is a very worthwhile organization to give to.”
Milkowski said that after reviewing the pamphlet, she contacted Friends of Foster Kids founder and director Theresa Toia and invited her to speak before the group. Milkowski said Toia impressed upon the Chicks how badly foster children need the items they can make.
“They do not have anything or anyone. So we made more,” Milkowski said.
Friends of Foster Kids is a Macomb County-based charity created with the goal of assisting local foster children. Toia said the organization obtains a building with utilities donated from October to January for its efforts. This year the donated building is located on 23 Mile Road in Macomb Township.
“We get children that come into custody that are not in a permanently placed situation,” Toia said. “There is no funding or program to provide them a Christmas. The state of Michigan provides each family that houses those children $25 for a Christmas. So we try to make them feel special one day a year.”
Toia said last year Friends of Foster Kids assisted approximately 900 children. Foster care case workers provide Friends of Foster Kids with the first names, ages, gender, sizes and wish lists of foster kids they supervise, and donors are asked to provide a child with gifts from the list, according to the Friends of Foster Kids website. Gifts for each child must be wrapped and labeled with the child’s first name, age and the case worker’s code number, according to the website. The gifts are then distributed to the foster care workers, who deliver the gifts.
“All of the kids need winter things, scarves and hats. We go by age range to find out where they should go,” Toia said.
Toia said she is particularly pleased to be receiving donations from Chicks with Sticks, as the group offers handmade items.
“I love when people give me homemade things they make as a hobby,” Toia said.
Nancy Nevers, a Macomb Township trustee and president of the Shelby-Macomb Daybreakers Kiwanis Club, said the club does fundraisers throughout the year and selected to donate some funds to Chicks with Sticks to provide yarn and materials for the group’s projects. Milkowski said the Chicks also accept donations from the community.
Nevers said that in October, Toia made a presentation to the Kiwanis Club and she discovered that Chicks with Sticks planned on donating a large number of bins filled with knitted items to Friends of Foster Kids.
“My Kiwanis group gives them money for the yarn and materials to do these fine acts of charity,” Never said.
Milkowski said although there is not an exact count of the items made by the Chicks, the group tried to make things in various sizes to accommodate the Friends of Foster Kids children, who range in age from infants to age 20.
“This is our biggest donation ever to just one charity,” Milkowski said.
Chicks with Sticks is also planning to donate hygiene products, clothing and toys to Friends of Foster Kids, Milkowski said.
Nevers said the Shelby-Macomb Daybreakers Kiwanis Club plans to assist Friends of Foster Kids as a holiday project as well.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance reporter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org