HAZLETON,LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On the heels of Valentine’s day, children, part of Brandon’s Forever Home will get new boots. It’s all thanks to Dream Builders, a project group part of Leadership Wilkes-Barre.
“They were in dire need of some winter boots and rain boots and everything for a lot of the children that they serve,” Nick Marinelli, a member of Leadership Wilkes-Barre, said.
Brandon’s Forever Home is named after co-founder State Representative Tara Toohil’s brother, who was a foster child.
“As a foster youth, he had gone through a lot of trauma. And a lot of the children that are in foster care have had terrible things happen to them, no fault of their own,” Toohil said.
The non-profit is dedicated to supporting foster children and families. The organization provides clothing, supplies, and almost anything else a foster youth might need. Toohil says many homeless youth don’t have warm winter clothing.
“Shoes are a big deal. Shoes are expensive. We have kids that have size 13 shoes. It’s really expensive and hard to find,” Toohil said.
Marinelli knows that kids can grow out of their clothes very quickly, but there’s a solution for that.
“Part of what Brandon’s Forever Home does as well is that if any of the youth don’t need anything that they’ve taken and used from a donation they can bring it back and pay it forward for the next group of kids that may come in,” Marinelli said.
“You’ll see as the donations come in they go right out. They’re gonna go on the feet of these children and make a difference,” Toohil said.
Over the course of 2 months, Dream Builders collected 150 boots. But that’s not the end for their project.
They’re also holding a raffle as a fundraiser. The winner, selected in March, will get three pairs of tickets to three shows in Hershey. The funds will be used to acquire and install a new playground in the yard behind Brandon’s Forever Home.
“We wanted to do something really big so that when the kids come here, not only can they feel like they’re at home but they can just feel like a kid again. Cause they’ve already been through a lot in life and this is ultimately just what they wanna do,” Marinelli said.
A new playground helps give children an outlet for the trauma they might have experienced.
Organizers hope the new playground will be built by early April. They say they’re also looking for mulch donations or help with the fencing in the backyard.