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Hallinan helps foster kids

School-based committee puts together 22 overnight bags

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Hallinan HOPES helps foster kids. Members of the volunteer group include (from left) Lily Harper, Sarah Buchanan, Luke Buchanan, Micah Buchanan and Henry Sahyoun.The Hallinan Elementary School HOPES (Hands-On Projects Encouraging Service) committee carried out a project this spring designed to connect children with their community.

“The committee's goal this year has been to connect our students with the community and build a sense of empathy in the kids as we serve together,” says Audrey Buchanan, a member of the school-based volunteer committee. “As a committee, parents and children, we decided to put together backpacks of comforting, entertaining items for kids entering the foster care system. Often these kids leave their homes with no personal items or a plastic garbage bag of a few things hastily thrown together. So our goal was to have each classroom assemble one backpack of items.”

Each backpack was to be filled with items including a stuffed animal, playing cards, a coloring book, new socks, an art project, a night light, books to read and a toothbrush.

To support the cause, the “Hallinan community came out in force,” Buchanan says. With 22 bags put together (for 18 classrooms), the volunteers exceeded their goal.

“Ms. Butcher’s second-grade class created a ‘happy book’ filled with art and statements about the simple things that make each student happy,” Buchanan says.

The bags were delivered earlier this month to the Oregon Department of Human Services office in Oregon City. And there could be more to come, because the hope is to make the project an annual effort.

“The kids learned priceless lessons about empathy and giving, and the generosity of Hallinan families will make children's transition into foster care a little easier with some special items to call their own and a nice bag in which to carry them,” Buchanan said.

For more information or to donate, visit www.oregon.gov/dhs or call 971-673-7200.

— Jillian Daley