Pictured is an example of items that can be put in a shoe box for the Little Box of Love project. (Photo via Little Box of Love Facebook)
Pictured is an example of items that can be put in a shoe box for the Little Box of Love project. (Photo via Little Box of Love Facebook)

VAN WERT – From now until March 10, Diana Rissner, Nicole Hampton, and Tammy May are collecting shoe boxes filled with gifts and necessities for foster children. The campaign, titled “Little Box of Love,” aims at giving children comfort and something to call their own when they transition to a foster home.

“Most foster kids that come in may not come with anything except the clothes on their back,” said Rissner who resides in Rockford. “We’re doing this so that they have something positive during a scary time for them.”

Rissner, who was adopted as a child and is currently a foster mom, felt called to help children in need to make sure they feel comfort during a traumatic situation.

“I was in foster homes so that pulled me to foster after my kids were older,” said Rissner. “Now I want to give back to other foster kids.”

Those who want to participate in the Little Box of Love project are encouraged to take the following steps:

1. Find an empty shoe box or similar container that has a removable lid.

2. Decide whether the box is for a boy or a girl (unisex shoe boxes containing items appropriate for either gender are also welcome).

3. Select an age category for the box; 2-4 years old, 5-9 years old, 10-14 years old, or 15-18 years old.

4. Fill the shoe box with recommended items such as one clothing item, two to three hygiene items, one or two books or school supplies, and one to two toys.

5. Attach a label to the short side of the box. The label should include if the box is for a boy, girl, or unisex and should include the age category that the box was made for.

Some suggested items include toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, wash cloths, dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, markers, note books, reading books, coloring books, stickers, hats, socks, and more.

Items to avoid include anything damaged or breakable, food items, used hygiene items, war related items, and materials associated with a specific religion as the group is not able to predict the religion of the child receiving the care package.

After the box is made, residents should drop the box off at one of the drop off dates. Currently, drop off times are set for March 3 at 4 p.m., March 7 at 5:30 p.m., and March 10 at 4 p.m. at the Van Wert Walmart near the gas station. If those drop off times do not work, Rissner urges people to contact the group through the Facebook page at “Little Box of Love.”

“This is something near and dear to my heart as we have five foster kids and have realized over time how little they arrive with,” said Rissner on the Facebook page. “If we can make them smile knowing they own something new, it’s worth it.”