Not long after the pandemic began, Karen Palfreyman, a volunteer from St. Peter’s UMC, Katy, TX., reached out to Cultivating Families to ask if she could donate knitted animals for children in foster care. At that time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks were the number one request from Child Protective Services (CPS). They needed masks for children entering the foster care system and caseworkers who were still on the “front lines,” making sure children were safe. We already had volunteers mobilized to sew masks for the caseworkers. As soon as we picked up the adorable, knitted animals, we had the idea of making matching masks for both the animals and the children. We reached out for sewing volunteers to make custom masks for these special stuffed animals and the children that would receive them. Judy Butryn, Pat Pratt, and Sandra Bordelon, from First UMC, Missouri City, TX., stepped up to help. The church also had some children’s masks on hand from Coastal Prairie Quilt Group members. These worked for both the children and the larger knitted animals in the first group.
Chevelle Bosier, MS, CPS Conservatorship IV shared that she gave the stuffed animals to two sisters, ages four and five. The youngest one wanted to show her classmates that they had matching masks. She wanted to protect her “baby” and take care of it. She wanted to put a mask on all her stuffed animals and asked Ms. Bosier, “How was she supposed to protect them from getting sick?” Ms. Bosier shared, “The stuffed animals promoted a positive message and a reminder to the two children that they must wear their masks every day, no matter where they go.”
Together, all these volunteers have donated over 50 animals and masks to children in our local foster care system. Karen Palfreyman is not finished yet! She recently told us that she will soon have another batch of animals ready for pick-up. She wrote, “I have a warm feeling every time I pick up the knitting needles. I pray that each brown bear, multi-colored cat, or pink pig will give a child in distress a happy moment with each hug.”