National Foster Care Month

No Longer In Nicki’s Living Room

Posted by on June 28, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Teen Toolbox sponsors two annual drives/events to raise awareness about the issues faced by youth aging out of foster care and to show teens that someone cares:

  1.   PACK A PURSE DRIVE™– collects and distributes purses filled with personal hygiene items to teen girls in foster homes, groups homes and homeless shelters each December to celebrate the holiday season and the end of the year.
  2.   PACK A BACKPACK DRIVE™ collects and distributes backpacks with personal hygiene items to teen males in foster homes, group homes and homeless shelters each May during National Foster Care Awareness Month.


Phase II:

  • We appreciate the generosity of our amazing donors (some as far away as Wyoming and Pennsylvania) which has allowed our annual holiday drives to grow so large that they can no longer be housed in Nicki’s living room.
  • We need several drop-off locations in the community for Pack A Backpack Drive (May) and Pack A Purse Drive (December). Churches, hair salons, barber shops, coffee shops, schools, community centers, and other local businesses.

We Doubled Our Pack A Backpack Goal

Posted by on June 26, 2013 at 7:25 am

We more than doubled our National Foster Care Awareness Month Second Annual Pack A Backpack Drive goal and collected 210 backpacks (duffel bags and knapsacks) filled with personal hygiene items to teen males in foster homes, group homes, and homeless shelters during the months of May and June 2013. (Our goal was 80.)

The backpacks were donated to eight organizations:

  1. Child and Family Services Administration
  2. Prince George’s County Department of Social Services Independent Living Program
  3. Howard County Department of Social Services
  4. Hearts & Homes For Youth
  5. DC Family and Youth Initiative
  6. Aunt Hattie’s Place
  7. Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center
  8. A Step Closer Foundation

We are grateful to our generous donors. THANK YOU:

  • Mike Lotocki and All Pro Team Sports
  • Saint Francis Academy
  • Watkins Hornets Youth Association
  • Mervo Mustangs Football Booster Club, Inc
  • Baltimore Stallions
  • Prince George’s Community College student organizations
  • Carolyn and Arthur Harris
  • Julie Coulter
  • Sharon Lucasi
  • Lillian Fassett
  • Kim Gilmore
  • Veleta Holloway

Are They Watching?

Posted by on June 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States.  There have been many big screen and made for TV movies about the struggles of children in the system.  The most famous movie (and one of my favorites) is The Blind Side. National Foster Care Month has ended but foster care is back in the spotlight with a television series on ABC Family called The FostersThe Fosters is an ethnic mix of biological and foster children being raised by two mothers. Get your attention yet?

Many, many people in the foster care and adoption community were glued to their television sets on Monday night for the premiere. I missed the first episode but no worries — it will replay on ABC Family, it is available to view online, and it will be available On Demand soon. I will definitely be tuning in.

I’m Back On Track

Posted by on May 29, 2013 at 6:00 am

I have to admit that during the month of May I have been on autopilot. — sometimes even feeling stagnant.  There were also several times during National Foster Care Month when I pondered “why I do what I do”.  Today I had several “why” reminders.  In fact, they were more like “wake up calls” and now I’m feeling like myself again. I had to RePackage Myself For Success!



Back on the path that leads to:

·         Providing a platform for teens to share their awesomeness.

·         Empowering teens to accept and embrace this platform (and other opportunities that come their way).

·         Lending my voice to those teens that have been silenced.




Packaged For Success™ Youth Portfolio Development Program helps youth put their best foot forward. During our one day seminar, young people discover their strengths, record their achievements, and develop goals and action steps. The end result is a completed professional portfolio that may be used in a variety of academic and professional environments.

Memorial Day and National Foster Care Month

Posted by on May 27, 2013 at 6:00 am

There have been various studies and comparisons of foster children and military children.  The bottom line is that they are all OUR children and deserve the care and concern of the entire nation.   


Just like foster children, military children experience unique challenges such as parental separation, family reunification, and reintegration. Due to frequent moves, many military children experience disrupted relationships with friends, and must adapt to new schools and cultivate new community resources.  Foster children also face these same disruptions.  Shared traumas also include a parent with (combat) injury or illness, parental death, and child maltreatment and neglect.


On this Memorial Day during National Foster Care Month I want to show appreciation to all of our Veteran’s and active military and their families for their sacrifices that ensure our individual freedoms.  I also am grateful to all the foster parents, child welfare workers, mentors, and supporters of children in foster care.


Last Day to Donate to 2nd Annual Pack A Backpack Drive

Posted by on May 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm

National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity raise awareness of the experiences and needs of the more than 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system.  Pack A Backpack Drive is The Teen Toolbox’s annual National Foster Care Month event.  During the month of May we have collected and distributed new and gently used backpacks (duffel bags, and luggage) and new personal hygiene items to teenage males in group homes, foster homes, and homeless shelters.


Today is the last day to donate: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, hand sanitizer, deodorant, soap, acne products, lotion, powder, shampoo, conditioner, shaving items, etc.  We are also collecting disposable cameras and wallets.


What I Know Now:

  • These drives have grown too large for Nicki to make all the deliveries
  • We need several drop-off locations for Pack A Backpack Drive and Pack A Purse Drive (December)
  • We need a central location where agencies can pick up donations
  • It would be awesome if youth could select their own items

National Foster Care Month in Pictures

Posted by on May 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity raise awareness of the experiences and needs of the more than 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system. The campaign also encourages the community to get involved and support these young people.   Every year, approximately 30,000 young people leave the foster care system without lifelong families – most at age 18.

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Each month, The Teen Toolbox recognizes a resilient teenager as our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the MonthSPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month award recognizes a youth (14-21) in the foster care system that is leading a life of promise and making a positive impact in his or her community. Nominations are accepted on a continuous basis.


Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer

The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.