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It’s all in the bag

By Sheree Hoddinett

A bag of love and a few essential items to hopefully bring a smile to a child’s face. That is what Buddy Bags are all about. The brainchild of Kerri Raedel, Buddy Bags is borne from an idea that all children deserve love – no matter where they are or who they are. As the mum of twin boys, Kerri is definitely one busy woman, but always wanting to make a difference she discovered a gap for kids in the community.

“I looked at all the community groups and there were things for domestic violence, homelessness and low socio-economic families. There’s so many groups which is amazing, but there wasn’t anything specifically for children and I was thinking where’s the kid’s stuff?” Kerri said.

“I thought maybe kids don’t need help, so I started to do a bit of research because I wanted to do something. Long story short, I contacted the Morayfield Child Safety Office and I asked if they had a need for items for children going into care and they said yes. I gave them my details and I decided to do more research. I also rang their Strathpine office and they said they needed items too.”

With all the information she needed to move forward with her idea, Kerri took the next step and the Raedel Support Group Inc. (registered not-for-profit) was formed. To get the ball rolling, Kerri, with the help of others in the community, has already filled tubs in her garage with items for boys and girls up to the age of 16.

“So we have a garage to store things, we have items and we’re registered,” Kerri said. “Now it’s building momentum and it’s just growing and growing. I didn’t realise how much of a need was out there and Buddy Bags has taken off so quickly in a short space of time. I put together buddy bags, a bag that’s a buddy, full of love and items, so every child feels loved and has all these items. It was basically because of an idea that I believe there is a gap in the community. I know everyone wants help, I get it, there’s so much happening in the world, but we’ve just missed this part so I wanted to see that filled. I just want to see things come together for these kids who need it.”

Buddy Bags have two categories, an Essential Bag and a Love Bag.

The Essential Buddy Bag is generally for urgent care situations (foster care, displaced children through family break ups), DV situations, homelessness or for any single particular case that the group is alerted to where a child needs urgent items (PJ’s, toiletries, blankets, underwear, clothes, soft toys).

A Love Buddy Bag is created to uplift a child, show them love and allow the child to enjoy a collection of items for themselves to enjoy whilst experiencing hardship/undesirable conditions/trauma or illness (colouring-in activities, selected essential items, toiletries, basic games, books and other little bits and pieces).

Looking into it further, Kerri also spoke to some local schools with Breakfast Clubs (providing breakfast for kids to start the day with a full belly and ready to learn), discovering that some kids also needed items as simple as soap, toothbrushes and even fresh underwear.

“So I thought if a child is going to school hungry, what else are they missing? And I’m thinking no one has possibly thought about that,” Kerri said. “So we are putting together some hygiene packs as well.”

Knowing she is just one person and can’t do this alone, Kerri is reaching out to the community and beyond and learning to accept the help from others who also want to make a difference. She has already gratefully accepted generous offers of help from Lions and Rotary groups.

“I don’t want anything for me, this is all about the kids,” she said. “Each child will have a unique experience and I hope it makes a difference, because so many of them don’t have much now.

I just hope I can show some kids that there is love out there and that someone cares.”

As the project continues to grow and develop, Kerri would also love to hear from those in the extended community who would like to help.

You can contact the Raedel Support Group Inc. via email or phone 0432 197 701.


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