Melissa Johnson from Utah Kids Belong alongside Pualei Lynn from Edynkei Boutique came to Good Things Utah to discuss the importance of the first day of school for Utah children in the foster care system. At any given time, there are  2400 foster children in the state which includes 300 children who need to be adopted. The organization, which is a part of a larger program called America’s Kids Belong, helps bring awareness to the public about these kids in search of their forever home. Currently America’s Kids Belong operates in nine other states including California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia. With over 400,000 children in the foster care system nationwide, America’s Kids Belongs hopes to be in all 50 states.

The organization works with other organizations that help children in the foster care system including Utah Foster Care and Raise the Future to he “We love to wrap around foster families and focus on the kids in foster care [and give them] whatever it is they need.” said Johnson. The videos featuring these children help bring awareness and bring them to life. They showcase the child’s needs and personalities more so than a picture with a synopsis would. 

Johnson is collaborating with Lynn to help bring back to school clothing to foster children in Utah County. The event will take place on Aug. 6 at Lynn’s boutique, Edynkei in Pleasant Grove. Edynkei is looking for donations for new clothing with tags or gift cards to clothing stores for children ages five to 22 years old. Clothing for all genders and sizes are accepted. “The goal is to help each kid have more confidence for the first day of school and to be able to walk in with a brand new outfit.” said Lynn. Johnson said it is important for kids to have new clothes for a sense of belonging and to be confident. Johnson and Lynn feel it is important for these children to feel confident in their clothes in order to be successful at school. Many foster children will never have new clothes and get hand me downs or clothing they find. Johnson and Lynn believe these children deserve new things. 

Drop off dates at Edynkei will be Aug. 4 and Aug. 5 or you can call and arrange a drop off. Edynkai is looking for volunteers to help style kids as well as donations for new clothing, gift cards, food, snacks and drinks. To get in contact with Edynkei call (928) 322-5445 or email edynkaievents@gmail.com. To join the foster friendly app, go to AmericasKidsBelong.org