Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 2, 2013

HC Child Welfare Board holds storage cleanup day

Special to the Review
The Athens Review

Athens — So what happens when a child is taken into foster care but isn’t allowed to take their belongings with them? Well, if they are able to take anything it is placed in storage. Many foster villages and communities are very specific regarding what can be taken in and out with the children.  So anything that a child may have from their childhood is simply placed in storage until the child is ultimately adopted or ages out of care.

The storage building is something that the Henderson County Child Welfare Board has taken the responsibility of paying for. Otherwise, there would be nowhere to put these belongings. Over the years, the building became more and more filled with items belonging to Henderson County children that were in foster care.  Seasons come and go; cold winters and East Texas summers eventually took a toll on the items inside the unit.  Toys, clothing, and other sentimental items were at risk for being damaged and ruined.  Keep in mind that these are often the only things that these children may have from their childhood. The unit was filled with teddy bears, action figures, bikes, a guitar, and even a homecoming mum.

The Henderson County Child Welfare Board took action last Saturday by cleaning out the entire storage unit, organizing and sorting the items, and placing them in large plastic totes.  The totes weather the years better as some of the belongings will be in storage for over a decade. Additionally, the totes give the children a safe container for their belongings when they get eventually get out of foster care.  Most of the items previously had been stored in old cardboard boxes and old black trash bags.

Dan Winfrey, Vice President of Human Resources and Training at First State Bank in Athens heard about the project and got involved.  He donated the time, labor, and resources to build shelves for the storage totes.  The shelves were built specifically for the dimensions of the storage unit and facilitate the organization of the bins.

“As citizens, I believe we have a duty to help ensure that whatever these kiddos are able to salvage from their broken and often abusive homes is protected until they can take care of the items themselves.” Stated Justin Weiner, Chairman of the Henderson County Child Welfare Board who is also an Assistant District Attorney in Scott McKee’s District Attorney’s Office.  “This is a great example of how members of the community can band together to help take care of some kiddos who, through no fault of their own, are victims of some very tragic circumstances.  I am proud of our county and the citizens who donated their Saturday to helping these kiddos.” Weiner also stated:  “I especially want to thank the Henderson County Commissioners and County Judge Richard Sanders who have played a vital role in helping make sure that we can take care of these special kiddos that endure things that no kiddo should have to endure.”

The Henderson County Child Welfare Board’s mission is to support a network of volunteers and Child Protective Services workers who are concerned with the welfare of children, especially those suffering from sexual violence, physical violence, and neglect.  Its purpose is to function as a liaison between the community and the Texas Department of Family and Child Protective Services.  For more information contact Justin Weiner at jweiner@co.henderson.tx.us .