Courtesy of Lindsey Wood
Lindsey Wood isn’t old enough to be a foster parent, but she’s using her sewing skills to support the foster community by making and selling hair bows for her charity, Bows That Bless.
When Wood, a freshman majoring in biology on the pre-dental track, was an 11-year-old in Thorsby, Alabama, she learned how to sew. Then she stumbled across a YouTube tutorial for making hair bows. She had just picked up her new hobby when she found out her best friend spent time in foster care as a kid.
“Their family explained to me how the foster care system works and how children often come into the foster care system, and they don’t have anything,” Wood said. “I was really young at the time, but it broke my heart to think about children my age or younger not having anything to call their own.”
According to the Alabama Department of Human Resources, there are approximately 6,000 children in foster care in the state. These children spend an average of at least 618 days in foster care.
Wood told her mother she wanted to support children in the foster care system.
“She [my mother] helped me realize that I could begin selling hair bows to raise money for children and for these organizations that help them,” Wood said. “I wanted to give them something they could call their own when they are going through such a transitional time.”
Wood has been running Bows That Bless ever since and has now raised an estimated $17,000. One agency Wood partners with is the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, which is the agency her best friend was adopted through.
She provides items such as diapers, backpacks, clothing, bottles, books and anything the center might need to support the children there. Jana Bazzell, a foster care social worker at the Alabama Baptist’s Children’s Home, said she sends a list of items to Wood who meets those needs.
“Lindsey is a great example of somebody who’s not a foster parent but still making a huge impact,” Bazzell said. “She just finds out what the need is, and then she meets it.”
Through Bows That Bless, Wood has sold bows to people in Texas, California, Tennessee and Florida.
“I feel that there are a lot of people out there that don’t know what the system can do to children. There are really great needs in the system,” Wood said. “Seeing Bows That Bless educate people has been really amazing.”
Wood now has a $1,000 scholarship she gives yearly to one senior in the foster care system, and she is in the process of starting Student Advocates for Foster Families, an organization that will partner UA students with foster families in Tuscaloosa to serve as trained babysitters.
With the transition to college, Wood no longer has the space she did to make bows, which has slowed down her process. She is using her position on campus to serve in other ways as well.
Alabama REACH provides resources for students currently or formerly in foster care and a number of other individuals, allowing students to pursue higher education. The program offers financial, academic and emotional support to these students in need of its services.
“The more we talk about it, the more awareness that we have on campus, the less stigma is going to surround foster care in general,” said Shannon Hubbard, the REACH program coordinator.
Wood has plans to foster and adopt, but for now she wants to continue finding ways to make a difference in the lives of families that do.
“The thing about the system is that it is not the fault of the children that they are there,” Wood said. “We should advocate for those children by speaking up for them and be a voice to bring awareness to the fact that they are in need. Foster care is all around us. If we just talk about what foster care is and how to help children in the system, then we can make a difference.”
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