HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - May is Foster Care Awareness Month and a group of students at one elementary school decided to do a random act of kindness for some Horry County children who are often forgotten about.
Students from Socastee Elementary School's gifted and talented program, and Students of the Manners Club donated book bags, blankets and stuffed animals for children in foster care.
It's a lesson about kindness, caring and love.
"I couldn't imagine how it would feel to not have anything, said Chris, a third-grade student who participated in the project.
"It makes me sad because we have everything and they don't have nothing," said Dwayne, another participating third grader.
"We want everyone to feel love and cared for," said Simone, also a third-grade student.
The students of Anthony Rito's third-grade class joined with Amy Cassey's manners club, an after-school program. The club first sent out a letter to the school asking for donations, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene items.
Then, one day, Rito read the students an inspirational book.
"It was about a young lady, their age, 9 years old, named McKenzie Snider, and she created this whole organization called 'Children Helping Children,'" Rito said. "That story inspired my kids to write letters to different companies."
They wrote letters to several businesses in the area asking for donations. The children even impressed one local law firm, who came to visit them at the school.
When they were done, the students raised more than $600 and received hygiene items, blankets and stuffed animals for the children, enough to fill 100 duffel bags.
"I am a therapeutic foster care parent; it means a lot to me ,especially when kids come to my house for the first time," Rito said of the personal connection he felt to the student's act of kindness. "They're scared, lonely and confused."
According to Ned Moore, interim director for the Department of Social Services in Horry County, approximately 4,200 children were in the state foster care system as of May 1.
Of that number, about 195 children are in Horry County, Moore said. He added that as they receive more children, there is a critical need for people to step and become foster parents.
"We need about 130 more foster homes in order to reach our goal," Moore said.
He said there's a great responsibility that comes with being a foster care home, but that because of the situations some of the children come from, they truly need to have loving, caring homes.
"A lot of times you don't know the background of the children," Moore said. "You don't know the situation they're coming from, so it can be a scary time."
Those who are interested in becoming a foster care parent can contact Heartfelt Calling at (888) 828-3555 or click here.