In a warehouse in west Eugene, volunteers gather to work on a very special project. Unlike Santa’s elves, whose work is seasonal, Bags of Love is busy year-round.
“It takes a lot of people to put everything together. We have a sewing crew that does nothing but make bags and quilts for us,” says Annette Brieske, warehouse manager at Bags of Love, a nonprofit that helps kids in crisis.
Bags of Love are homemade pillow cases, or sturdy duffle bags for older kids, stuffed full of essentials and comfort items for children in need due to neglect, abuse, poverty or homelessness.
What’s inside a Bag of Love?
All of the items are essential to a child’s health and well-being—a change of clothes, socks, underwear and pajamas, a warm coat, hat and gloves, toiletries, school supplies, books, a stuffed animal and a quilt or warm blanket— 87 percent of the items inside each bag are donated.
“When the kids open the bags, you’d think we’ve given them the world,” Annette says. “And that’s what we think about as we’re filling the bags. We put our love into them.”
It’s estimated that nearly 1 in 4 children in Lane County lives below the poverty line. One in 25 students is homeless and others find themselves removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.
Bags of Love partners with nearly 50 nonprofits and government agencies to get the bags into the hands of children who need them, from infants to teens. These bags serve as a lifeline to the kids who receive them, and requests for the bags continue to increase.
“We often see kids who come into our clinic carrying a toy, stuffed animal or other object from their Bag of Love,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. “Knowing that there are people who care enough to give them something to physically comfort themselves in their time of crisis, it’s amazingly powerful.”
How you can help
More than 2,200 kids in Lane County received bags last year, and the nonprofit relies heavily on donations to meet the need. Eugene Pediatric Associates will be accepting donations of items at its clinic through the month of December, including:
- New socks, underwear and pajamas (all sizes)
- Winter coats, new or gently used, sizes infant to adult
- Long-sleeved T-shirts, sizes 12-adult
- Small infant and toddler toys
- Baby dolls
- Journals for tweens and teens
- Small flashlights
- Small nail care kits
For a list of additional items and donation sites around the community, click here. Monetary donations to Bags of Love are also greatly appreciated.