Project T3, Totes for Tots and Teens, was recognized as the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Organization Jan. 30.
Kristin Obermeyer asked the audience to imagine taking a trip “away from stress, away from drama, away from the cold, from frozen pipes, mounds of snow .... away from temptations, away from pain, away to a place that is safe and warm.
“You’re going to stay with some really nice people. It won’t be forever, just for a little while. You’ve done nothing wrong. Mommy has some things she has to work on .... Do you have a bag, something we can put these precious things in?” She held up a trash bag and wondered, will this do?
Then the presenter said, “Every day in one of the 15 counties that Project T3 serves, a child goes into the foster care system.” Since its founding by Carrie Wesseler in 2005, the organization has provided over 1,400 overnight bags with personal and hygiene items for foster kids. “These bags are more than a means to an end. They represent the respect and dignity, the love and compassion from our community to our most vulnerable children.”
Project T3 has also provided over 6,000 backpacks filled with school supplies “thanks to the support of the community,” she revealed. “Carrie’s vision and that of so many volunteers” has made this all possible.
Wesseler pointed out, “Little did I know what God had in store for me when he called me to become a foster parent. I thought he wanted my husband and I to complete our family through fostering to adopt, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. While attending the required training to become foster parents, my husband, Neil, and I learned that children were given a trash bag to put their most loved belongings in when being removed from their homes to be placed into foster care. This thought haunted me until God revealed his bigger plan for me.
“Before I even knew what hit me, I was making phone calls to the Ripley County Department of Child Services, then to area businesses and working on brochures. Again, I thought this would be a small community project that would help our children in Ripley County. Again, God had bigger plans. Donations of items, as well as money, came pouring in from the beginning and Ripley County was well stocked. So was my basement! So, now, because of the overwhelming help and support from people like you, we are able to reach out to 15 counties in Indiana.”
The Batesville resident thanked the Ripley County Community Foundation, Phi Beta Psi and Doug Wilson, “who helped us get 501(c)3 status, .... (and) all the businesses, organizations, individuals .... (and) so many volunteers who help us in so many ways.”
She also expressed appreciation “to my family, especially my husband, Neil, who has graciously given up half our basement to house our T3 area and for tolerating all my craft projects that aid in our fundraising efforts.
“This is truly many hands doing God’s work!”
The 25 active volunteers are excited about their major fundraiser, an April 6 coin paddle auction. Persons or businesses willing to contribute gift cards to area merchants or chamber gift certificates may contact Wesseler at 933-1519 or ProjectT3@hotmail.com.
For more information on the organization and a list of items to donate, persons can visit www.ProjectT3.com.
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.