Dandelion Wishes offers children ‘Backpacks for Hope’

December 5, 2018 | 3:00 am

Updated December 5, 2018 | 7:24 am

Connie Nicholson, the owner of Dandelion Wishes is creating Backpacks of Hope. | Photo by Marlys Mason

Connie Nicholson opened Dandelion Wishes, a consignment boutique last summer, to offer gently used, consigned clothes to the community. Since then, she has added retail merchandise and filled the racks with consigned children’s clothing for each season.

As sales for the holiday season began, Nicholson realized that grandmothers who are often raising their grandchildren for a variety of reasons and foster parents made up a large part of her customer base and while talking to these groups of women, she saw a need for the children who are taken from their homes by social services, often leaving with only the clothes on their back.

She could not get this image out of her mind, so she talked to the foster mothers again and found out what could make these placements for the children less stressful.

“I was told that many times these children are unsettled,” said Nicholson.

She had been praying about a way to assist children in our community, she said, and recently “spoke with someone who opened that door.” This prompted her to contact Sunrise Foster Care to discuss how she could help.

One of her clients, a foster mother, explained that most of the calls to take a child come at times night when it is difficult to call around for needed items; a car seat, for example.

“And the last thing these foster parents want to do is leave a child to get needed supplies,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said that she is taking the outreach for this project to her consignors, who she feels are part of the Dandelion Wishes family, and making it a joint endeavor.

Titling her project Backpacks for Hope, Nicholson has committed to one year with Sunrise Foster Care to donate backpacks for these children.

“One foster mother’s insight was very helpful in explaining how this backpack would be such a blessing to the child and foster family and ensuring what items would be most helpful and useful,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson will supply backpacks and the collection of the included items and is asking her “family” to help supply the items for each backpack — something that would help the child for the first 24 hours.

“The initial plan would be to sponsor two backpacks per month, one for a boy and one for a girl, of the same age group,” Nicholson said. “I would like to drop them off the first week of each month.”

Requested items are for hygiene (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, comb, deodorant, diapers, Pull-Ups — whatever is age appropriate for the backpack) and clothing (underwear, socks, pajamas, an outfit or two, a hat, coat — whatever is appropriate for the season).

“They will accept ‘gently loved’ clothing items as well,” Nicholson said, and she plans to donate clothing from the store once it becomes the property of the story after the consignor’s period.

She already has one consignor who wants to do both backpacks for the 3 to 4-year-old range, which is the start of the calendar for December. She has created a calendar for the backpacks as well: 3 to 4-year-olds are July and December, 4 to 5-year-olds are January and September, 5 to 6-year-olds are February and October, 6 to 7-year-olds are March and November, 7 to 8-year-olds are April, 8 to 9-year-olds are May, 9 to 10-year-olds are June, and 10-11-year-olds are July.

If you are interested in donating items, for any age group, they can be dropped off during store hours at Dandelion Wishes, located at 2215 New Hartford Road.

December 5, 2018 | 3:00 am

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