On average, 40-60 children enter foster care every year in Douglas County, most of them toddlers. Superior Middle School eighth-graders are giving them something to hold onto.
A trio of eighth-graders in Amanda Lindquist's English class are raising funds to purchase 30 Sweet Cases - blue fabric bags packed with a blanket, teddy bear, hygiene items, coloring book and crayons. Each one will be decorated by SMS students and distributed to children entering foster care in Douglas County.
"It makes it seem like they have something that's actually theirs and not something that they're borrowing or using for a while," said Lilly Glenn, who took on the project with classmates Madeline Snider and Bella Olness.
Instead of trash bags, they can put items from home in the Sweet Case, Olness said. If they have anything to bring, Snider added.
Their fundraising goal is $750, enough to purchase 30 bags.
"We might have to up our goal," Lindquist said. "We're already almost at $600."
Donations, both online and at the school, have increased since camera crews began focusing on the students.
"It's kind of intimidating," Glenn said of all the media attention.
But they're happy to do it.
"I think it's good because it gets the word out," Snider said.
This is the third time Lindquist's students have held a Sweet Cases fundraiser. Thanks to community support, they purchased 62 of the bags in 2016 and another 49 in 2018. All of them are gone.
The Sweet Cases initiative began as an opportunity for red wing students to make a positive impact on the community.
"Because we spend time studying the Holocaust and genocide, and that is such a difficult topic that I don't want them to walk away from them thinking that the whole world is a terrible place," Lindquist said. "I want them to walk away empowered. There are bad things that happen in the world; what can you do to help?"
The students encouraged everyone to donate.
"Making these sweet cases will provide these kids with a place to put their things and it gives them something that they didn't have before," Glenn said.
Monetary donations are being taken through Friday, May 17. Visit togetherwerise.org/fundraise/Superior2019 to donate. Cash and checks made out to SMS can be donated at the school's main office, 3625 Hammond Ave.