HELENA — A trio of senior high school students are working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) for a statewide community project, helping those in the foster care system.
The three are Lewis & Clark County 4H Ambassadors and their inspiration came after attending a national 4H seminar.
"At this event, we got to talk to different youth teams like ours from across the nation and Puerto Rico,” says Cade Duran, a senior at Helena High. “We kind of got to pick on different topics, what's one thing that we could include more kids into or help people?"
They decided to help those in the foster care system after learning the state has thousands of youth in the foster system each year.
These bags will go to kids ages five and up.
“Montana has worked hard to decrease the number of children in care, and since 2018 the state has reduced the number of youth in care from 4000 to 3,350,” says Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer for DPHHS. “We continue to support children and families, and efforts like this can make all the difference. We appreciate what these local high school students are doing with the backpack project. They are truly making a difference.”
"We've all participated in countless service projects through 4H but nothing to this extent I believe,” says Megan Goroski, a senior at Capital High. “This is one of our biggest projects that we have ever done before. It feels really good to know that we are making a difference and you really get that self-satisfaction from it."
The three say they will never meet the foster children because of the confidentiality requirements of the childrens’ cases, but are proud the community has helped them make a difference.
“It's been possible from people behind the scenes that you don't see like the organizations that have given us the money. We have our ambassador group, our amazing adult leaders. So, it's really been the community's project rather than just our own project," says Claire Downing, a senior at Helena High.
The seniors have already packed over 100 backpacks and have nearly enough materials to top off their goal of 500 backpacks.
Donations are still being accepted with the highest demand being homemade blankets and monetary donations.
To contact the seniors to help:
- Send a message to the Lewis & Clark 4H Club through Facebook
- Contact Cade Duran at email@example.com