What began in a Woodland Hills kitchen back in 1998 has blossomed into a national organization serving some 20,000 children each year out of a 7,000-sq-ft warehouse and volunteer center in Westlake Village.
My Stuff Bags provides partner agencies, such as foster care and social service organizations, duffel bags filled with new essential and comfort items for children who enter shelters with nothing of their own.
“It’s so meaningful to a child to know that people care. These kids are very vulnerable, impoverished and in a traumatic situation—maybe they’re homeless, displaced by fire, abused, neglected or abandoned. Receiving comforting items, like a teddy bear or blanket, shows a child people know about them and want to help,” says Cofounder Janeen Holmes, pointing to the village of volunteers it takes to fill the bags and provide donations.
“Corporations, schools, banks, community organizations and other volunteers come in and help us stuff the bags,” says Holmes, a child advocate and former Special Education teacher. “It’s very much a grassroots participation and involvement by a lot of people.”
Full Speed Ahead
Moving operations outdoors due to Covid, volunteers from the National Charity League recently filled duffel bags with toothbrushes, blankets, books, stuffed animals and other items for children.
“Everything in the bags is new, almost everything is donated and all bags include a blanket—most of them handmade,” notes Holmes.
Having provided duffel bags to more than 600,000 children nationwide since its inception, My Stuff Bags continues to fill the growing need.
“The needs are greatly increasing because of what’s going on today,” says Holmes, citing homelessness and domestic violence as huge problems in California and across America: “More than 300,000 children enter foster care each year, tens of thousands more flee domestic violence and enter shelters with their mothers or are homeless.”
My Stuff Bags offer these unfortunate children a more hopeful start on this next phase of their journey by giving them new belongings to replace those they were forced to leave behind or never had to begin with.
“Our goal is to serve 20,000 children every year,” Holmes says, noting the generosity of recent item donors, including the Molina Book Foundation, Simply Fun puzzles and games and Bombas Socks.
“My Stuff Bags provide tangible proof to these children that many people really do care about them,” says Holmes.
Learn more at MyStuffBags.org.
How to Help
Donate: New, nonviolent, nondenominational items:
+ Stuffed animals
+ Coloring books/crayons
+ Small toys
+ School supplies/stationery
+ Small toiletries
+ Baby stuff
Donations are tax-deductible; send to:
My Stuff Bags Foundation
5347 Sterling Center Dr
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Volunteer: Stuff bags, make blankets or lend a hand at the Westlake Village Volunteer Center (MyStuffBags.com).
Contribute Financially: Make an online donation by credit card at MyStuffBags.com or call 866-3MY-STUFF.
Make a Blanket: Blankets must be new, purchased or handcrafted, in any fabric, color and size, from 40×40 to 54×60.