BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KXPI) - Their mission is to ease trauma, build self-esteem, and show love to Idaho foster children. Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz found a unique closet and wanted to Pay It Forward.
Step inside The Village in Blackfoot, and this is what you'll find. It is a closet full of love for foster children. It serves the 17 counties of southeastern Idaho and is operated by the Idaho Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. They collect needed items from all over the area for newborns up through teenagers, free of charge.
But foster children have a lot of disruptions and commotion going on in their lives.
"I think most of the time, the problems I see when kids come in, is they are scared. And sometimes that comes out in, they're angry or they're quiet." said Jacque Burt. She is the president of the Idaho Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and she is the director of The Village. She and her volunteer staff try to help the foster kids overcome that fear, with a little TLC.
"We give them things that they need and we try to give them some things that they want. Because, here's the thing, nobody wants to be that kid in foster care. And when you leave your home and leave all your items and you've forgotten your book bag and things like that, we can replace all that, but when they go to school, we want them to feel like everybody else. When they get around their peers, we want them to feel normal. And so we want them to have clothing, school supplies, all those things so they're not without. They have it as well," said Burt.
All the items here in The Village foster closet are donated by people from the surrounding area.
"Amazing. I think people are inherently good and they sit on their couches waiting to do good and they just need an avenue and that once we provide it, they step up," said Burt.
There is a lot of work involved, and a lot going on behind the scenes even after hours, but Burt said it is vital work, and it's all worth it.
"But the really sweet thing is, when a child comes into the store or a little sibling group comes in and we get to work with them. I've sat in that baby room with a pregnant teen mom and just had a heart-to-heart with her. I've helped little kids, who when they left, they turn around and say, 'can I give you a hug?' You know, that's when we know that what we're doing is important, that we are really making a difference in the world. These kids matter. And someone, we need to all step up because no kid is in care because of anything they've done. It's usually a family issue. And they didn't ask for this. And so if we can help ease that transition, that trauma that they are experiencing, then we've done our job," said Burt.
Time to Pay It Forward.
"And so uhm. I don't know who this is. Oh. OK. Hi," said Burt, as an unidentified man walked into the store.
"Jacque, how are you?" said the man.
"I'm good," replied Burt.
"Good. I'm Kory (Carling) with Mountain America Credit Union," said the man.
"Oh, Hi," said Burt.
"And we've heard about what you are doing for our community and all the families you've been able to touch here at The Village," said Carling.
"You've going to make me cry," said Burt.
"And all these kids that you've been able to help and we're here today to Pay It Forward," said Carling.
"Awesome. Well thank you," said Burt.
"So I've brought with today, $500 in cash," said Carling, pulling cash out of an envelope.
"Awesome," said Burt.
"That we'd like to give to you on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union and Pay It Forward." said Carling.
"Awesome," said Burt.
"So you can continue your cause in helping those kids in need and those families who are supporting them," said Carling.
"Well thank you," said Burt.
"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, thank you," said Carling.
"Well. I appreciate it. Thank you so much Kory," said Burt.
"You're welcome," said Carling.
"I really appreciate this. Hang on. I need to get a picture real quick. Don't go. This is awesome. What a surprise. Did you guys know this? OK, so this is what its' about. OK, here Kory. Get in her with me," said Burt, taking a photo with Kory using her phone.
The Village is a nonprofit and is totally dependent on volunteers and donations. They have three storage units in addition to the storefront, and Burt said it would really help to have all the items in one central location. So they are looking for a new building. They would like to stay in Blackfoot because it is central to serving the 17 counties. If you know of one or could help, give them a call at 208-569-6298 or if you would like to volunteer also. The Village is located at 35 East Pacific Street in Blackfoot. A link to its Facebook page can be found here. Ask about their statewide lemonade stand fundraiser. Volunteers can pickup one of the kits the last week of June and then setup their own stand any day during the month of July.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at email@example.com.