by Naomi Harward
At the White’s house, blue duffel bags, separated by gender and age group, and fabric crayons covered tables in two rooms. Teddy bears, blankets, and other goodies were piled high on a table in another room.
In less than two hours, the tables had been cleared, and the White’s garage was filled with the 67 duffel bags, decorated and packed, ready to be delivered to their recipients.
On Friday, November 3, over 20 female students joined CU Women at the home of Joy Dr. Thomas White, Cedarville University’s president, to complete the final leg of the “sweet cases” fundraiser the org first announced in September.
Earlier this fall, CU Women – a university org made up of faculty, staff, and the wives of faculty and staff – partnered with nonprofit organizations Together We Rise (TWR) and Bair Foundation to raise funds for a TWR project called “Sweet Cases for Sweet Kids”.
At the end of the fundraiser, participants decorated and packed duffel bags with a number of items, including Bibles, to be donated to children in the foster care system.
“Kids are normally given a trash bag when they are taken out of foster care,” said Mary McCulley, Assistant Professor of English and CU Women’s Service Project coordinator. She said Together We Rise, an organization founded in part by individuals who came out of the foster system, strives to change that.
Their reason for packing these “sweet cases”, she said, is to “create quality bags for these kids so they can have something that they own, to show that they’re valuable and that people care about them.”
Not only that, but McCulley said TWR, though not a Christian organization, was also more than willing to partner with the Christian nonprofit Bair Foundation to add Children’s Story Book Bibles to the preschool bags.
CU’s Global Outreach office also provided Holman Christian Standard Bibles for the older kids’ bags.
McCulley said the sweet cases opportunity was an easy way for those like herself – who are not at a point in life where they can foster kids – to still provide help for them. Many of the students who attended the event, some of whom had a personal connection to the system, felt the same.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to [minister] to these kids who really need something of their own, and to get to be creative and to show them someone put thought into it,” said senior Christian education major Rebekah Erway.
Sophomore Hadley Flener’s adopted sister was a foster child, and Flener remembers her coming to the Flener home with a trash bag. “No kid should value all their worth belonging in a trash bag,” she said. “I’m not okay with that. So this is something that’s really on my heart, and something I advocate for.”
The original goal, announced at the beginning of September, was 20 bags for 20 kids by October 7, at $25 per bag. In less than a week, McCulley said, generous donations allowed CU Women to up that goal to 40 bags for 40 kids. By the October 7 deadline, they had received enough to again expand their goal to 60 bags.
At the end of October, CU Women announced they had raised enough to purchase a total of 67 bags.
“We had to keep raising [the goal] every week, and eventually we had to stop it,” McCulley said, laughing. “We just couldn’t get anymore bags. And it worked out perfectly.”
CU Women will be donating the packed bags to the Bair Foundation, who will then distribute them to children in need.
Naomi Harward is a senior journalism major and the photography editor for Cedars. She is an avid photographer who loves writing, the outdoors, and people-watching.