Senior social work student Allyson Bence is collecting hygiene products for youth aging out of the foster care system for her senior project. Bence has a goal of filling 50 bags of products such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant.
“It really means a lot to me because I was in foster care, so I want to give back to those who are aging out so they can have a good transition to adulthood,” Bence said.
Bence was raised in foster care and had a good experience aging out of the system with her foster mother.
“I had a really good experience because I had a great foster parent,” Bence said. “I was treated like I was one of her own, she helped me go off to college like she did her other daughters.”
Other people who age out of foster care system don’t always have support and have trouble transitioning out of the foster care system.
“There is an issue,” Bence said. “They face many problems like homelessness, unemployment, (and) lack of social support. Those are the problems they face when they age out.”
Bence has a goal of collecting and filling 50 bags by Wednesday, Nov. 20, and she has already filled 12 bags. Bence has boxes to collect donations at her work and on campus in room 412 of Russ Hall where people can donate hygiene products. Bence also set up a GoFundMe where she has reached her goal of $150. She used that money to buy the bags and any extra hygiene products that are needed. The bags will also have information on resources in Southeast Kansas.
“I think that if they have so many other things to worry about, bills and stuff, (and) if they have their basic hygiene taken care of, it will make them not have to worry about that,” Bence said. “I believe it will also honor their humanity (and) make them feel more integrated in society.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Bence will take the bags to the Department for Children and Families’ Independent Living coordinator, who will give the bags to youth aging out of the foster care system.
“I feel great,” Bence said. “I feel like I’m making a positive difference in these youth’s lives.”