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Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770c8000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770ca000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cc000090.5 WESA PA listening area counties:Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cd0000This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

A Bag Of Essentials Can Offer The Comfort A Foster Child Needs

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA
Foster Love Project, founded by Kelly Hughes, offers bags of essentials to foster children.

When a child leaves their home for foster care, they often have to leave their belongings behind. And if a social workers is able to grab a few things, they’re usually jumbled in a trash bag.

Foster Love Project aims to ease that process by offering a new bag filled with comforting items like new pajamas, a stuffed animal and blanket, we well as essentials such as toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.

“We want to spread the message that they are not disposable … and what they have and own is important to us too,” said Foster Love Project founder Kelly Hughes.

The bags and their contents are donated during the project’s annual collection drives in November. 

“My original goal when we started two years ago was 300 bags,” Hughes said. “My goal was to provide that for my foster agency.”

But after that first drive, Hughes had enough for 1,500 bags. And instead of helping just one foster agency, she was able to distribute them to 21 agencies in seven counties. She said the second drive provided enough for 1,800 bags to help agencies in 10 counties.

Heather LaVeck and her husband Danny have fostered six children over the last five years, adopting three. Most recently, they took in a newborn boy.

“We received a diaper bag full of things for him,” LaVeck said.

She said she found the gesture heartwarming, but also helpful.

“I was able to send that diaper bag back with him when he went back to his birth mom,” LaVeck said. “And she did not have one, so that was able to carry all the way through to when he went back home.”   

The project also offers other items such as highchairs and playpens when they are available. Hughes said she’s hoping to secure a nonprofit status and expand into a brick-and-mortar free thrift store for foster parents.

“The doors just keep opening, so we keep walking through them,” Hughes said.

Heather LeVeck shares more of her thoughts on Kelly Hughes and the Foster Love Project.