Photo by Flickr user Travis Nep Smith
It’s common to be moved by video making its rounds on the internet; viral content elicits multiple emotions from the viewer. It’s less common for a viewer to harness those emotions and turn them into action, but that’s exactly what Memphis native Kristin Jonakin has done.
After viewing a video for Comfort Cases, a nonprofit organization that works to provide children in the foster care system with simple necessities, Jonakin was shocked to learn that many children still rely on trash bags to tote their belongings from one placement to another.
“When I watched the video, it was really heartbreaking to see what Rob (Scheer, the founder of Comfort Cases) went through as a child, and to see that kids in the foster system are still given trash bags to move their belongings in today,” says Jonakin, adding that the realization “stung her to her core”.
In response to Scheer’s story, Jonakin has launched a GoFundMe page called “Trash to Treasured” that is rapidly raising funds to provide children in the local foster care system with a simple, but important, necessity —a bag of their own to carry their belongings in.
Jonakin set an initial, modest goal of $7,500 to fill 100 backpacks and suitcases with essentials like sleepwear, toiletries, and age-appropriate reading materials and school supplies. In six days, her “Trash to Treasured” page has raised more than $4,300 toward the goal.
“I have always been passionate about our city. I’ve always wanted to do something to help better it, and this is it,” says Jonakin.
As a former Urban Childhood Institute employee, where she garnered research experience by studying neurocognitive development and learning in early childhood, Jonakin is highly familiar with the effects a lack of stability and simple necessities have on a child’s development. And while a backpack can’t cure all of what commonly ails children in the foster care system, it’s a start. And, it’s a piece of dignity.
“A trash bag should never be a child’s suitcase,” Jonakin wrote on the fundraising page, “Our children are so much more valuable than that.”
Building off of the current momentum, Jonakin is working to turn “Trash to Treasured” into a nonprofit 501c3. She is also scouring other Memphis organizations in hopes to form a partnership. If you are interested in donating to Trash to Treasured, click here.