Organization gifts 10,000 comfort bags to foster care and homeless youth this holiday

EXCLUSIVE: Precious Dreams Foundation founder Nicole Russell tells theGrio the goal is to offer kids a sense of stability during an otherwise difficult time of the year.

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Nicole Russell and her family learned first hand the challenges many kids face in the foster care system.

The story in-depth isn’t for Russell to share but it was what she learned during that process that encouraged her and her mother to form Precious Dreams Foundation, an organization that serves the youth as they enter and exit foster care and homeless shelters. The organization also helps in providing relief during their most challenging transitional periods. 

Precious Dreams Foundation founder Nicole Russell and others gift comfort bags to youth. (Photo: Courtesy of Precious Dreams Foundation)

“A number of children within the foster care system are moving through this system without bedtime support and I thought about all those kids who might have bad dreams and difficult nights and that’s how this idea for the foundation was born,” said Russell. 

In the most recent report commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), on any given day there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. That same report concluded on average children remain in state care over a year and a half, and 5% of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years. In 2019, one-third of children in entering the United States foster care system were young people of color.

“We are a Black founded and Black led organization and we made it a priority to establish chapters in major cities across the U.S. that have high populations of Black and Brown youth that are in foster care or experiencing homelessness,” Russell said. 

Precious Dreams Foundation founder Nicole Russell and others gift comfort bags to youth. (Photo: Courtesy of Precious Dreams Foundation)

Those statistics are definitely a push for Precious Dreams Foundation to do all it can to help and this holiday season by providing ten thousand gifts of comfort to youth in foster care and homeless shelters. “It’s a crazy, ambitious goal that we set for the holiday this month,” added Russell. “We are halfway to our goal at this point but by Christmas Eve we would have served 10,000 gifts to those children.”

The holidays are the opposite of warm and fuzzy for millions of youth in foster care and homeless shelters in the country. Kids who navigate uncertainty year-round are deserving of comfort and something from their wishlist during the holidays. The DHS report also found that roughly 10% of children in foster care live in institutions or group home settings.  

“I wondered what those kids who might suffer because of bad dreams or believe that there might be someone under the bed did when there is no one to run to in the next room,” Russell mentioned to theGrio

Born This Way co-founder and Lady Gaga’s mom Cynthia Germanotta stuffing PDF Comfort Bags (Photo: Precious Dreams Foundation)

Precious Dreams Foundation is also getting some big name help in the quest to service those children. The organization teamed up with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation where the organizations together will help foster care and homeless youth in Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Utah and Los Angeles.

The idea is to offer the youth a sense of stability and comfort said Russell, who also added that the organization stays in touch with each young person for the long haul. “We do everything we can to try and help the youth in our program to stay the course and chase their dreams.”


Kelsey Minor is a 2x Emmy award-winning freelance journalist based in New York City. You can follow his work on Twitter @theKELSEYminor

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