SALE'S A Better Life for Foster Kids has found a home, securing a five-year lease at the Sale Memorial Hall offices.
Founder Heather Baird said the lease would enable her to focus on helping children in crisis across Gippsland.
The charity puts together suitcases with new clothes, toys, toiletries, books, and supplies for children who have nowhere to go, and may be entering the foster system with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
It also organises furniture and other donations for families taking in foster children.
“This will open up a lot of avenues,” Ms Baird said.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind that I can’t do this because I haven’t got a place to call home, or I can’t apply for certain funding.
“It’s very central, the agencies are just around the corner, and there’s plenty of space — it’s worked out perfect.”
The need for support is growing, as the charity spreads to more regions and begins helping more agencies.
“We’ve got over 300 crisis bags ready to go out, already this financial year we’ve done 1500,” she said.
“We haven’t tapped into everywhere yet, there’s a desperate need in the community.
“In one week, 15 bags were used — that’s 15 children in one week removed from home.”
Ms Baird she was stunned at the generosity of organisations and businesses in Sale, and donations were increasing to match the demand.
“It’s fantastic. Every day a new business comes on board just about,” she said, particularly noting the Sale Commonwealth Bank’s contribution in the past year.
“A lot of Gippsland’s like that, the locals have just been fantastic — it’s a badge of honour for them, but for us too, because it’s showing that yes, they do appreciate what we’re doing, and there’s a big difference with a small local business getting behind you because they haven’t got that big corporate help.”
With the new home secured, the next phase of Ms Baird’s plan is to buy a van, hopefully from a local dealership, so she can deliver more of her crisis bags to places like Pakenham or beyond Bairnsdale.
While she’s set for volunteers, there is always a need for boys’ and girls’ clothing sizes five and up, and new singlets.
To help A Better Life For Foster Kids, phone Heather on 0412 154 434.