In March 19 IssueBy Derek AaronNews-Register Editor
A Russell County family who has been recognized by NECCO, a team of professionals that provide community- based services to youth and foster children who need care, have just completed their second community wide project to help foster children in south central Kentucky.
Billy and Lisa Campbell, along with their children Taylor, Jacob and Ernest, along with their foster children, the Russell County High School Y-Club and individual families in Russell County recently collected new and slightly used items, such as blankets, stuffed animals, toys, personal hygiene products, Gideon Bibles and more.
They used the items to assemble backpacks filled with items intended to comfort children being placed into foster care for the first time or that were moving from one home into another home, according to Lisa Campbell.
"All together they collected and assembled 33," she said. "Our goal was 20 so we exceeded it. The project was entitled, 'Love Gets Packin'."
Campbell said her main goal was to let her foster children know that while they didn't deserve what has happened to them, nonetheless it has occurred, and their life will continue on.
"We have to look around and we will discover how fortunate and blessed we are," she said. "At the same time finding out that others aren't as blessed. I also want my biological children to know how blessed they are to have parents that genuinely care about them."
She said the project's intentions were simply to show her and Billy's children and foster children that there are always others out there that are less fortunate.
"Many of my foster children have been dealt a horrible hand of cards," Campbell said. "Nonetheless, if they pay close attention they will soon discover that there are others that have it even worse.
Does this make what has happened to them fair or morally correct … no, but only they can break the cycle."
She said she works every chance she gets on making each of them realize this.
"They have to truly want help and they have to open up their hearts to changing or it won't happen," she said. "Many times this takes months and even years for them to trust and to embrace what we are trying to teach them because they haven't had anyone before that they could trust but then we begin to see the changes occur."
She said that is when you realize that all the sleepless nights, trips to school, destroyed property and in some instances physical and verbal abuse is worth it.
"To see an angry, lonely and frightened human being change into a more secure, confident and trusting one," she said. "No my family hasn't been able to reach every single child that has been placed in our home, but it wasn't because of lack of trying. Nonetheless, if we have only reach or have reached one it will make our society a better place to live and it will transform their whole future."
Campbell has a quote that was written by Maria Robinson that she tries to instill in each person in our home, "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
She said if everyone could just let go of the horrible things that have happened to them in the past and live by this it would be a true blessing.
"I realize that it would be difficult to forgive someone for locking you in a cage, electrocuting you, beating you, starving you, abusing you sexually, verbally or any other way but how it would change their lives for the better," she said. "I don't ask the children to forget these horrible things that they have had to endure just to embrace them and try to forgive the person that was responsible for this wrongdoing."
She said she has had children to call or come back to their home and tell her that they try to live by the quote in every aspect of their lives and they are much more content than before.
"This makes you feel wonderful," she said. "My daughter, Taylor, came up with the idea for the 'Suits us Fine' project (their first community project) because the first foster child we picked up was a nine-year-old girl."
Campbell said the little girl got out of a SUV and in the back of it were several black garbage bags.
"I noticed that Taylor was abnormally quiet but I didn't say anything to her," she said. "After we got home she came to me with big tears in her eyes. She said 'I can't imagine how that little girl feels.' I asked why. She then replied she didn't even know us and had to get into the car with us and on top of that she had to carry all of her stuff in garbage bags."
This event was truly an eye opener for her daughter.
"I told her we should come up with something we could do to make children placed in foster care feel a little less anxious and feel that had something that only belonged to them," she said. "That is when they came up with the idea to collect new or slightly used suitcases. Then this year we came up with the idea for the backpacks."
The little girl and her brother that had helped with the first project had left the Campbell's home after being with them for a year, but because they still visit them monthly they also helped with the "Love Gets Packin" project.
The backpacks were delivered to the children in various Kentucky counties, whom were selected by NECCO, several weeks ago.
"Now we are embarking on the T-shirt fund raiser," she said of another fundraising venture, one that will benefit the NECCO Foster Care Agency. The first T-shirt is navy blue with white writing that reads "Foster Parents Mending" with a picture of a red broken heart being sewed up on the front. On the back it in white it reads "one child at a time."
The second shirt reads, "Foster Parents Plant the Seed" on the front and then on the back it reads, "Then watches them grow." It has a garden with children growing up out of it, Campbell said.
To purchase shirts or help with future community projects, email the Campbells at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-566-8166.