Project Night Night: Berkshire Children & Families packs comfort items for homeless children

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PITTSFIELD — Imagine suddenly having to leave your home and everything you have in it behind.

Tens of thousands of children in the country are confronted by this scenario each year, due to becoming homeless, having to be removed from an abusive or traumatic environment, or for other emergency reasons.

"When children are removed from their homes, they really have nothing to call their own," said Barbara Sammons, a volunteer with Berkshire Children & Families.

Last fall, she came across a magazine article about a national program called "Project Night Night," created by a San Francisco mother and lawyer, Kendra Stitt Robins. Project Night Night (www.projectnightnight.com), with the help of volunteers and donated items, puts together new canvas tote bags with comfort items, including a new blanket, age-appropriate book and stuffed animal, to be given to children who have become homeless.

Sammons liked the notion and thought it could be adapted through Berkshire Children & Families (BCF) to bring comfort and a sense of support to kids in transition. BCF approved, and Sammons, began a pilot of the program, with the help of family members and friends. To date, about 50 Project Night Night bags have been distributed to children through local agencies like BCF, the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the Department of Children & Families, Key Program Inc., and the Brien Center.

"Volunteering here really opened up my eyes to the volume of children who need help," Sammons said.

In light of May being National Foster Care Month, during which BCF aims to highlight ways people in the community can help support and empower area children and families, the local Project Night Night is looking for volunteers to help put bags together or to shop for and/or donate items for the totes.

Needed items include: blankets (new or newly handmade); new books for children and young adults (in English and Spanish); stuffed animals; toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. No clothing, liquid toiletries, or used items.

"There are just kids who are in transition all the time," said BCF President and CEO Carolyn Mower Burns. "I think it's a very moving project. Everyone can identify with it."

Contact Jenn Smith at 413-496-6239.

How to help ...

To learn more and get involved with the project, call Erin Sullivan at Berkshire Children & Families at 413-448-8281 or email esullivan@bcfcma.org.


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