HOLLAND, Mich — Years of fostering more than a dozen children in her home inspired Lisa Hoeve to begin Hope Pkgs.
The non-profit provides "first night bags" full of necessities for kids entering the foster care system.
"I kept pondering that idea of how kids come into care," Hoeve explained. "We quickly learned that kids will come to your door, and they don't have anything... or they do have like a trash bag."
Hope Pkgs, which began in 2015, has now distributed more than 4,200 backpacks across the state; stuffed with everything from a tooth brush and toothpaste, to pajamas, body wash and stuffed animals.
"Our initial goal was, you know, hopefully 75 a year we could do. But, with the community support, it's been great, " Hoeve told FOX 17 News. "I didn't have any idea it would grow this quickly. You know... it's unfortunate that there's a need for it, but I'm really excited that we can help that."
She continued, "I think, for them to receive something from someone they don't know. It's something that they can keep, you know, they don't have to share, they don't have to return it. I think that's very special. I think that's, that means a lot to them."
Hoeve said the bags are distributed to foster care agencies in 36 counties, including the Upper Peninsula.
"From the families that take care of them, I hear great things," said Hoeve. "As far as like the foster parents, too, it really helps them they're not scrambling, you know, to get last minute to get items for the kids. They can, more or less just kind of welcome them in their home and show them around and try to get them, you know, acclimated to things."
As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Hoeve is receiving a $550 prize.
To learn more about Hope Pkgs, visit the website here.
If you'd like to help, there are a number of drop off locations for donations, including:
Priscilla's Boutique, 12330 James ST B100, Holland MI 49424
Culver's of Holland
3035 W Shore Dr., Holland MI 49424
Salon Professional Academy, 2975 West Shore Drive, Holland MI 49424
Saunders Family Bakery, 102 S River, Holland MI 49423
Great Lakes Clothing Care, 983 Butternut, Holland MI 49424
Full Circle Creations, 139 E Main St, Zeeland MI 49464
American House, 5812 Village Drive SW, Wyoming MI 49519