Each year, more than 10,000 youth across Indiana are a part of foster care at any given time, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
The Indiana Department of Child Services, The Indianapolis Colts and Cargo Services, Inc. are working to provide backpacks filled with 25 age appropriate books to every foster child in Indiana so the children can have something to call their own -- and books that can open their minds to the possibilities that exist in life, Shelly Chadd, Putnam County Department of Child Services director, said.
At a local conference, keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, a former foster youth, and now executive vice president of diversity at monster.com, credited a the gift of a box of books from a stranger as the motivation for him to overcome great challenges in his life.
"Reading gave me self-esteem, confidence and let me know, that despite the instability and uncertainty that was happening all around me, I did have a purpose and a place in this world after all. That small act of kindness... of giving this little boy a book...provided what I needed most: hope and belief that there was goodness in others," Pemberton said in a press release.
In an attempt to help meet the goal of half a million books by Nov. 28, book drives are currently underway in Putnam County. Currently all of the schools within the county are collecting books.
Halftime at the Colts game on Nov. 28 will be dedicated to Books for Youth, and the person who donates the 500,000th book will be featured at halftime along with children in the foster program, Chadd said. Drop-off boxes will be available at the game for any last-minute donations, she said.
As of Wednesday, approximately 377,107 books have been collected for the drive across the state, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services website.
Locally, books can also be dropped off at the Putnam County Public Library in addition to the Putnam County Department of Child Services, located at 121 Ridgeland Road in Greencastle.
The Civic Fellows of DePauw University are also partnering with DCS in sorting and distributing the books to our youth.
Books collected within Putnam County will be distributed to foster children in the area, Chadd said. She estimated at any given time there are around 70 foster children in the area who go through DCS or are in juvenile probation.
"It's just the goal that every child in the foster system has a backpack," she said.