Jul. 19—Children entering the foster system often only have what they can fit into a trash bag. Sometimes it's even less.
Haynes International has made sure foster kids have something to call their own for years.
Tuesday marked the return of Books for Youth, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Books for Youth is a series of annual charity events that distributes book bags filled with books to children in the foster system.
More than 50 foster children received a book bag of 25 books.
"We're so happy to be back in person and making a difference," said Stacy Lozer, program director for Books for Youth.
Haynes partners with Cargo Services, an Indianapolis-based shipping company, and the Indianapolis Colts for the annual event.
Steve Fugate, co-owner and CFO of Cargo Services, said the company reached out to Haynes, one of its business partners.
"We came to them with the program ... they jumped on it," he said.
Haynes has hosted a Books for Youth event for 10 years.
"It's neat to see the kids light up when they get their own backpack of books," said Haley Johnson, senior sales supervisor at Haynes.
"It's a dual purpose, something that can't be taken away from them, plus the benefit of reading," Fugate added.
Children's families — biological and foster — were invited to the event. Close to 90 people were in attendance.
Children are identified for the event through Department of Child Services and local foster organizations including Hands of Hope, The Villages and Firefly Children & Family Alliance.
Books are geared toward a child's reading level, adding a personal touch and making the books all the more useful.
"We learned early on you can't recycle books without a purpose," Lozer said.
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard and his wife Kristin are heavily involved with the Colts' charitable giving toward foster youth and families.
The Ballards have fostered four children, adopting two of them.
"We live it," Kristin said Tuesday. "We know what the system is like. We know what the foster parents (go through)."
In addition to the giveaway, there were games and Colts cheerleaders and Blue the mascot were on hand for photo ops and autographs.
Books for Youth has distributed more than 900,000 books since its inception.
"It's been pretty remarkable," Fugate said.
Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.