Nicole Klingler surrounded by some of the donations for the transition bags.| Courtesy Nicole Klingler
IDAHO FALLS — Arriving at an unfamiliar home as a foster child can be scary, which is why a local mom is doing what she can to ease that fear.
Idaho Falls couple Nicole and Scott Klingler have been foster parents for a little over five years. Over that period of time, they have taken in dozens of children in need, on top of caring for their own two kids.
The Klingler’s foster care journey began when they bought their first home and felt like they were at a time in their lives where they had “extra to give.” The couple had thought about adoption early on during their marriage, but they didn’t feel like it was the right fit for them. It was foster care that caught their attention.
“People say often to us, ‘I couldn’t do foster care. I would get too attached to the children, and it would break my heart,’” Nicole told EastIdahoNews.com. “But who are we to limit the love we have to a child who may never get to experience it just because of how it will affect us? We have an incredible opportunity through foster care to give a little piece of our love to children who desperately need it.”
Since getting involved with foster care, Nicole has discovered that one of the hardest parts is when a child steps into a stranger’s home. She said they are often uncertain, hurt, hungry because they’ve been neglected and dirty because they haven’t been taken care of.
“A lot of the children that we’ve had come with very little or absolutely nothing into our home,” Nicole explained. “That’s been really hard to watch because all they want is to be back home, even if it’s not the greatest environment, they want the familiarity of home.”
With that in mind, Nicole had the idea to create “transition bags” and fill them with comfort items such as a fleece blanket, socks, boxed or instant food, toiletries, books and a small stuffed animal.
Every year at Christmas time, the preschool she owns called The Cat and the Fiddle Preschool hosts a food or clothing drive. This year, she decided the bags would be a good way to help foster kids and teach the students. The school has what they call “super standards” where the staff teaches the kids about different values each month, such as honesty, determination and cleanliness. December’s “super standard” is kindness.
The Cat and the Fiddle Preschool staff (from left to right: Julia Park, Lorilee Johnson and Nicole Klingler) holding some of the donations they received. | Courtesy Nicole Klingler
With the help of her preschool, she was hoping they’d gather enough items to put together 10 bags for foster kids. She decided she’d also post on Facebook about the project and to her surprise, she had an explosion of responses from people wanting to help.
“It was so overwhelming and wonderful all at the same time,” she said. “I’ve been crying every day since I posted that post. People are so kind and so generous. I’ve been so grateful.”
Nicole said she has well over enough items for the preschool staff to put together at least 100 bags.
She plans to give the bags to a regional nonprofit organization called The Village that gathers items for foster children and distributes them to eastern Idaho children in need.
For anybody interested in donating to the project, the items Nicole said they are looking for can be found on their Amazon gift list and monetary donations can be made on Venmo @Nicole-Klingler-1.
You can also reach out to Nicole by calling or texting (208) 757-2489 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is something that is super important for these kids in foster care,” Nicole said. “They come into care, not on their own fault, and if we can provide a little bit of comfort for them, that goes a long way.”
Lorilee Johnson and Shantelle Kinghorn sorting the items for the transition bags. | Courtesy Nicole Klingler
The Giving Tree at The Cat and the Fiddle Preschool where students can pick a tag with an item on it that they will donate. | Courtesy Nicole Klingler
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