Borrowed Hearts Owensboro, a nonprofit focused on serving local children in foster care, is holding its first Christmas Toy Drive. The gifts, all of which have been donated by the community, will go to children in foster care during the organization’s annual Christmas party.
Borrowed Hearts was originally founded in Evansville, Ind., in 2015 by Sarah Gough, who reached out to Amanda VanBussum in Owensboro about starting her own local chapter.
“Last year I was the adoptive mom of three and knew I had two more children in foster care [on the way], so the organization is close to my heart,” VanBussum said. “They wanted to expand to Kentucky because there was nothing like that here. Everything is free through Borrowed Hearts.”
VanBussum officially opened Borrowed Hearts Owensboro in December 2019. Last year, just days after her organization got its start, she held a smaller-scale Cookies with Santa event.
VanBussum wanted to hold a bigger event in 2020, but with the COVID-19 pandemic having affected nearly the first full year of business, she knew she wouldn’t be able to host anything in person.
Despite those obstacles, the support VanBussum’s organization has received from the Owensboro community has made all the difference. So far, more than 500 toys and more than 500 stuffed animals and books have been donated.
These gifts will be given to 125-150 children in foster care in the Owensboro area, VanBussum said. So far, 37 families have signed up to receive gifts. Many of those families house five to eight children at a time, she added.
“We’ve given a lot of notice to foster parents. This is for them to shop for their kids,” she said. “They’ll get a punch card and will get to pick out a certain number of gifts — per category, per child. We will also send them home with a roll of wrapping paper.”
Donations are still being accepted, VanBussum said. Ideally, Borrowed Hearts Owensboro would like to see all donations dropped off by Friday, but the organization will continue taking donations until Dec. 15. The Christmas party will be held Dec. 19.
Currently, the most-needed gifts are for teenagers and middle-aged boys. VanBussum recommended donating gift cards to fast food restaurants, Starbucks and retail stores for teens. For middle-aged boys, she recommended toys such as Lego sets and Nerf guns.
VanBussum expressed appreciation to the community for supporting Borrowed Hearts Owensboro over the last year, attributing her organization’s success to the many people who’d taken the time to give back.
“We have only been serving kids in foster care for a year, and we have been so overwhelmed with support from the community,” VanBussum said. “People are eager to get involved. I think a lot of people feel called to help, even if they don’t feel called to become foster parents.”
A complete list of Christmas gifts can be found on Amazon as well. Those gifts will be shipped directly to Borrowed Hearts’ store in Owensboro, located at 1705 W. Second St.
Any donated gifts can be brought to the store during its operating hours, or individuals can contact VanBussum to schedule drop-offs by calling 812-454-3929.