Kentucky organizations helped provide supplies and housing to Louisianans who have been impacted by hurricanes. Now, the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services is returning the favor for Kentucky families impacted by recent tornadoes.
Louisiana workers delivered 200 “Geaux Bags,” of supplies meant for children in the foster care system, to Lotus Children’s Advocacy & Sexual Violence Resource Center in Paducah on Wednesday. Lotus and the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services will distribute the Geaux Bags to Kentucky children in the foster care system, especially in Graves County and Marshall County, two of the counties Lotus serves.
Ricky Montet, director of emergency preparedness at Louisiana DCFS who helped transport Geaux Bags from Louisiana to Kentucky, said the department was lending a helping hand to Kentucky during its tornado recovery like Kentucky has when hurricanes hit Louisiana.
“Kentucky does support us during hurricanes, too. They provide shelter space for us if we get over our capacity in Louisiana,” Montet said.
Montet said the bags were labeled by age and gender of the child that will eventually receive them. Geaux Bags contain items like new pillows, pillowcases, pajamas, toiletries, stuffed animals and toys.
“When you have nothing from a tornado or hurricane, everything helps, especially the basics,” Montet said.
Louisiana DCFS coordinated the donation with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, a Lexington-based child abuse prevention organization. Jill Seyfred, executive director of PCAK, said she then reached out to Lotus to see whether the Paducah organization had space to store Geaux Bags until they are ready to be distributed.
“Our community and statewide partnerships have played a key role in our efforts to address the needs of survivors, children, and families in our region impacted by the tornado,” Lori Wells Brown, executive director of Lotus, said.
Workers also provided information about available resources for tornado survivors to give to the children’s parents and guardians. The bags also come with drawstrings, which make it easier for kids who need to move between homes to take their belongings with them.
Grace Stewart, Lotus’ children’s advocacy center program director and legal advocate, said Lotus also has some weighted teddy bears and blankets to give out to children affected by the natural disaster. She said these items could help children cope with traumatic stress. Lotus is also giving guardians information about how traumatic stress manifests in children so that they can keep an eye out for symptoms in the children under their care.