Trio’s efforts help foster kids adjust

Iola High School's FCCLA students filled backpacks with supplies to give to children in foster care.

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March 3, 2022 - 9:41 AM

Iola High School FCCLA students Maddy McVey, from left, Kinsey Schinstock and Jess Kroenke sewed blankets and filled backpacks with items to help foster children adjust when they are placed in a new home. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

It’s difficult for a child to go to a foster home. 

Not only are they leaving behind everything that is familiar, those who are placed during an emergency may not have all the personal supplies they need.

A group of three Iola High School students want to make that process a little bit easier.

They sewed blankets and filled backpacks with supplies to give to children who are entering a foster home.

It’s part of a community service project for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). 

The team includes Maddy McVey, a sophomore; Kinsey Schinstock, a freshman; and Jess Kroenke, a junior.

The girls took second place at a district STAR Events contest in Yates Center on Feb. 9, which qualifies the project for state. 

The idea for the project came from conversations with McVey’s mother, who is a social worker, and learned about the plight of children who enter the foster care system. 

“They don’t really have things they need,” McVey said. “They don’t have their personal items so they feel really alone.”

Kroenke said she was inspired to work on the project because she knew friends who had been in foster care. 

It took a great deal of work to make the project a reality.

They each sewed blankets and divided the work into three sets of 10 for a total of 30 backpacks. They separated them into different age categories, with different items for boys and girls. 

An anonymous donation provided the backpacks.

The girls then asked students to supply various items for the backpacks, such as toothpaste or shampoo. 

That turned out to be the biggest challenge, Kroenke said. They divided requests among various seminar classes, but only six out of 16 classes participated. They decided to make it a contest to encourage donations.

Other clubs and organizations came through for them, including STUCO, the girls basketball team and FBLA. 

Donations also came from members of the community.

Then it came time to shop. 

That was the most fun part, Schinstock said. The girls visited a fabric store to pick out material for the blankets.

“It helped us learn to work as a team, and we all got closer and had a shopping day together,” Schinstock said.

McVey’s mother will help distribute the backpacks. 

The girls said the project taught them valuable leadership skills.

“And it made us feel like we were making a difference,” Kroenke said.

DISTRICT H STAR Events contest results include: 

National Program Project: Jess Kroenke, Maddy McVey and Kinsey Schinstock (Silver, State Qualifier)

Job Interview: Kinzey Wilhelm (Gold, State Qualifier)

Professional Presentation: Molly Riebel and Dalton Coffield (Silver, State Qualifier)

Repurpose and Redesign: Kenleigh Westhoff (Silver)

Career Investigation: Maya Shaughnessy (Silver)

Public Policy Advocate: Rylie Olson (Silver, State Qualifier)

Chapter Service Project Display: Christina Gideon and Kadin Smith (Silver, State Qualifier)

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