CHARLESTON -- U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and West Virginia Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein on Wednesday visited St. Mary’s Correctional Center in St. Mary’s to celebrate the donation of hundreds of blankets, scarves and bags crafted by St. Mary’s and Lakin inmates to give to foster children.
The bags, specifically designed to meet the needs of kids transitioning into the foster care system, allow for versatility and storage of a large volume of belongings. The donated items were presented to representatives from Mission West Virginia, a community service organization, in conjunction with the Carry On Campaign, which collects luggage, essential personal care items, and items of comfort for children who are in transition to the state’s foster care system.
West Virginia currently has more than 4,000 children in the foster care system.
"No child should have to use a trash bag to transport their belongings," Goodwin said. "I am proud to partner with Mission West Virginia and the Division of Corrections to help give kids who are moving into foster care the essentials they need for that difficult transition.”
The Carry On Campaign began in October 2010 as a collaborative, multi-agency partnership that includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Mission West Virginia, Inc., the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Institute and the West Virginia Drug Endangered Children Task Force.
Donated luggage bags and other essential items are provided to child protective service workers, law enforcement and advocates across the state to be given to children in transition to foster care. These children often have few or no personal belongings or comfort items, and no luggage. The program addresses the immediate needs of abused and neglected children and helps to minimize trauma during this difficult experience.
St. Mary’s Correctional Center, located on North Pleasants Highway in St. Mary’s, is a medium security correctional facility designed to house minimum to medium security level offenders and inmates deemed as geriatric or chronically ill. SMCC has a current capacity of 610 inmates.
Mission West Virginia sponsors programs that find families for children waiting in the foster care system. In addition to the Carry On Campaign, the agency also sponsors Sunday’s Child, a regular column featured weekly or monthly in newspapers throughout the state. This column spotlights children who are legally eligible to be adopted and are waiting for a loving, permanent family. The column provides a brief description of the child along with a photograph.