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Children in foster care receive celebrity treatment

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 3:36 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Foster students in the Roanoke Valley are getting the “celebrity treatment” just in time for the new school year.

Actress Jen Lilley - you may recognize her from the Hallmark Channel - is originally from Roanoke County. She has a passion for children in foster care.

“Children enter foster care every two minutes in the United States. Seven-hundred children enter foster care in this nation every single day,” said Lilley.

For the 2021/2022 school year, Lilley started a backpack campaign called “Christmas in July.” This program partnered with four charities: Comfort Cases, City Serve, Child Help and the Roanoke nonprofit ministry Straight Street. “One of the reasons we chose to do school supplies, backpacks full of school supplies, is because about 55% of children in foster care do not graduate high school,” explained Lilley.

Straight Street is a faith-based nonprofit that began in 1994, providing skills and training for at-risk youth in the Roanoke Valley. Director Keith Farmer says this organization will keep the supplies at Straight Street and serve as a storehouse for the Department of Social Services. “I believe kids that are homeless and kids in the foster care system deserve the best that we can give. So often they get the scraps, and they deserve the best,” said Farmer.

For children in foster care, school can be tough, but these backpacks hope to bring a message that they are not a label, they are not forgotten, and they are not a statistic. Instead, they are seen and loved.

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