Tag Archive

7th Annual Pack A Purse™ Drive Starts TODAY

Published on November 8, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Our 7th Annual Pack A Purse™ Drive launches on TODAY, November 8, 2013. We are collecting purses (including totes and other handbags) filled with personal hygiene items for teen girls in foster homes, group homes, and homeless shelters. Only new and gently used purses will be accepted.


Personal hygiene items needed: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, deodorant, soap, lotion, powder, shampoo, conditioner, shaving items, and lip gloss.


The Next Level – Pack A Purse Drive™ Phase II:
• We need several drop-off locations in the community for Pack A Purse Drive. Churches, hair salons, coffee shops, schools, community centers, and other local businesses.

• We are in need of a central location for sorting and packing donations. Volunteers welcomed!

• We desire a location that will allow participating agencies to be given specific “shopping” times so that youth can come and select their own items.

• We never want to make deliveries in black garbage bags so donations of large holiday shopping bags and other durable large bags will be accepted during each drive.

Take A Portfolio Back To School

Published on August 19, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

It’s back to school time! 

Recommendation: Add a portfolio to the school supplies list.

Education is power. Youth are full of limitless possibility.  They learn from every interaction and experience – either what to do more of or what not to do again and both can have positive consequences.  The Teen Toolbox implements the positive youth development model which means that our youth are fully prepared but not problem free.  Positive youth development focuses on assets and not deficits and includes youth in solution seeking.  We believe that teens should be the author of their own paths and that the role of adults is to guide and not lead.  Adults must build a safety net or foster an atmosphere where teens can fail safely. 


Packaged For Success™ is a preparation lifestyle – a collection of positive habits and character traits where we are prepared for the great things life has to offer.

  • Prepared with a mindset of abundance that allows us to take advantage of opportunities that come our way.

No Longer In Nicki’s Living Room

Published on June 28, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

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.

What Would You Do If You Won The Lottery?

Published on April 26, 2013 By Nicki Sanders

Today the estimated jackpot for Mega Millions is $92,000,000.  The estimated jackpot for Powerball is $112,000,000.


I don’t play the lottery so there is no way that can win the lottery but let’s play “what if” anyway.


What if YOU won the lottery?  How would you give and serve your community if you won the lottery?  YES, I’m assuming that you will give and serve your community.

  • Would you pay for low income students to attend college?
  • Would you build a homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter?
  • Would you sponsor a struggling school?
  • Would you adopt multiple children and youth from foster care?
  • Would you launch a job readiness program for teens aging out of foster care?
  • Would you fund child abuse prevention programs?
  • Would you open a transitional living program who teens who have aged out of foster care?
  • Would you open a school?
  • Would you purchase and donate books, school supplies, and clothing to struggling families?

I Am Unable to Adopt or Foster, Now What?

Published on November 27, 2012 By Nicki Sanders

#Fact: The more birthdays a child celebrates in the foster care system, the less likely they are of being adopted. Older children need families too.


Foster care statistics according to the AFCARS Report for FY2011 (July 2012):

  • 400,540 in foster care on 9/30/11
  • 252,320 entered foster care during FY2011
  • 104,236 children and youth waiting to be adopted
  • 31,101 seventeen year olds in foster care
  • 29,264 sixteen year olds in foster care
  • 24,220 fifteen year olds in foster care


Raising awareness about the need to help teenagers in foster care ‘secure’ a forever family through adoption or to help them develop a support system of caring adults who will assist them after their foster care services end is essential to improving their quality of life.


I’m unable to adopt or become a parent what else can I do?


So glad you asked that question.  There are so many ways to get involved to support teenagers and young adults in foster care.

A Positive Alternative to Hollywood Celebrity Worship

Published on October 23, 2012 By Nicki Sanders

Are you following the lives of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Pipa Middleton, Drake (congrats to him for earning his GED this month), Usher, or Justin Timerlake?  New pregnancies, hot couples, divorces, altercations, arrests, CD releases — sometimes the title of pop culture critic fits me very well.  Other times I wish I could make the celebrity drama disappear from the headlines or at least completely erase it from my consciousness.  I would never want to earn my paycheck as a pop culture analyst but I try to abreast of the big things happening in Hollywood.  Why?  Because I am a firm believer in meeting youth where they are I can’t turn away completely.


I always infuse real life examples in my discussions and workshops with young people.  More often than not the youth are engulfed in the lives of celebrities so I engage them in conversations and activities about strengths and weaknesses, challenges and triumphs, loyalty and disappointments, and reality versus fantasy.  For better or worse many young people regard actors and musicians as role models.  I instituted our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month feature to provide a positive alternative to Hollywood celebrity worship.

Is SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month Safe?

Published on October 18, 2012 By Nicki Sanders

The Teen Toolbox is on a mission to raise awareness about the needs and potential of youth in transition from foster care and work to counteract negative statistics and stories by showcasing the talent and determination in young people.  We invite you to nominate a teen for our “SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month” feature which recognizes a youth in the foster care system (14-21) that is leading a life of promise and making a positive impact in his or her community.
Have you nominated a teen for “SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month” yet?  Are you wondering if submitting the nomination is a safe or smart thing to do?  I understand completely.   In fact, I have had similar concerns when I’ve seen profiles of youth awaiting adoption on my local news or adoption website, or in the email newsletters from organizations that serve youth in foster care.