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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Volunteering with a Toddler: Teaming up with British Swim School and Comfort Cases


At the beginning of November, I received a monthly newsletter from British Swim School. I opened it, and expected the usual updates regarding the program. To my surprise, however, I found something entirely different in this email. British Swim School had announced that they were teaming up with an organization called Comfort Cases. I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved.

I had not heard of Comfort Cases prior to this email from British Swim School and, as I read about the organization, I knew it was special and something that I needed to take part in. 

Comfort Cases is an organization that provides overnight bags to children entering the foster care system. These new bags (typically backpacks) are filled with useful and comforting items such as toiletries, blankets, pajamas, books, stuffed animals and more. 

"We pack and distribute overnight bags filled with essential and comfort items to meet the basic needs of these children and to bring some happiness into their lives.  Every child deserves the dignity of having something of their very own and knowing that their community cares about them.  Our charity provides a way for communities to come together and support the most vulnerable among them."



Their cause is incredible. Comfort Cases may be local to Rockville, MD, but they have shipped 27,000 cases to 27 states! They were founded in 2013. That's a ton of work that has happened in the last 4 years, and it really is amazing. 

Here locally, they are reaching so many. Police officers now carry bags in their vehicles to be ready at a moments notice. They are trying to make their way into the school system so that counselors have bags in their offices. They are making it possible for our community to help children in our area instantly.

Their story is touching. 

"Founder Rob Scheer remembers the day his oldest children arrived on his doorstep with everything they owned in the world packed in tattered trash bags.  It immediately brought back such painful memories for Scheer of carrying his own trash bag from place to place in the foster care system. How could it be that over 30 years later we still had not gotten it right?  How were we still asking children to pack up their life in a trash bag?  Where is the dignity in that for a child who is scared and vulnerable?"

And so, operation No More Trash Bags was started...

As soon as I got the email from British Swim School stating that they would be partnering with Comfort Cases this fall, I knew I had to take part in this. There are so many ways to take part, so I am hoping you will find a way as well.


Ways to Volunteer and Donate:

Donate Items through British Swim School: British Swim School is collecting donations through the month of November. You can simply bring your items to swim class and hand them over to the deck ambassador! If you are local, but don't attend BSS and want to participate, please feel free to drop any donations at their office at 841-F Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg. Donations will be accepted Monday - Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am - 1pm! For any donations, please check the Comfort Cases supplies page here. 

Donate Items through Comfort Cases Directly: Comfort Cases have very specific and deliberate items that are placed in them. For any donations, please check their supplies page here. At the moment they have a very specific need for baby and toddler toiletries, as well as pajamas (size tween, teen and adult).

Monetary Donation: If you aren't local, or just maybe don't have the time to shop and drop off items, you can always make a monetary donation. Please see this page for all monetary donations.

Volunteer Your Time: If you can spare some time, this is an amazing experience! At this page, you can find their volunteer calendar. You guys, they are SUPER organized. You can find a time slot to fit your needs, and volunteering in person is such a great experience.

Yesterday, I joined British Swim School employees while they were volunteering their time at Comfort Cases. I was so honored to be able to join them for this opportunity, and I plan to go back.


We were shown how to pack bags, and then our task was to check bags that had been put together and donated to Comfort Cases. We made sure the bags were packed correctly, had everything they needed, and that the supplies were new and good quality. They take the time to make sure that things are age appropriate (based on the size of the pajamas included), and gender appropriate.


The best part, was that Caroline could help! Volunteer opportunities for children are SO hard to find- especially when it's a toddler you are trying to bring. This place is SUPER kid friendly. Caroline was helping to pack bags and check everything. We spent 2 hours there, and it was such a rewarding and wonderful experience.


As we packed bags, my mind was focused on the children that would be receiving them. Caroline had a lot of questions, and I tried my best to answer why it was that some children might need a new home and a bag full of essential items. I held back tears as we packed bags for babies and toddlers. I found myself wishing we had a larger home that could accommodate more children, because our door would be open.

I am so thankful to have partnered with such a great company like British Swim School. My involvement with British Swim School provided a valuable connection and introduced me to Comfort Cases- I plan on helping and volunteering with Comfort Cases a lot in our future. I am beyond thrilled to be able to expose my daughter to volunteer opportunities like this. The fact that she can come and volunteer with me is a priceless experience that will be so beneficial to her and the children we help.  



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