ELKINS - A photography exhibit promoting adoption was on display in Elkins Monday, offering information on ways to get involved by fostering, adopting or just providing much-needed items to foster children.
"Heart Gallery of West Virginia - Portraits of Hope" is touring the state as part of National Adoption Month. The display, which features portraits of West Virginia foster children who are eligible for adoption, was open to the public at the Western Steer restaurant in Elkins Monday evening.
There are many ways for people to help improve the lives of the foster children, Rachel Kinder of frameworks, a nonprofit organization, said Monday.
Carol Phipps of frameworks, who also works with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, has a personal connection with most of the children featured in the ‘Heart Gallery’ exhibit. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson)
"We recruit people to be foster parents or to adopt," Kinder said. "We explain the process and offer help throughout the process - until they're certified or get placement and/or adopt kids."
However, adults touched by the children's smiling faces can help them in other ways as well, Kinder said.
Through the Carry-On Campaign, adults can donate new or gently used luggage for the kids, which is greatly needed for moves to foster homes, Kinder said. The program's goal is to "eliminate garbage bags as luggage for youth in foster care," according to the frameworks newsletter.
Adults can also donate personal items the kids can keep, such as toothbrushes, stuffed animals, blankets, books and crayons through the program.
Care packages for the children are also welcome, Kinder said.
The donations can be dropped off at The Inter-Mountain offices at 520 Railroad Ave. in Elkins. For more information about the Carry-On Campaign, call 304-562-0723 and ask for Carrie Dawson,
Carol Phipps of frameworks, who also works with the Wendy's Wonderful Kids program, has a personal connection with most of the children featured in the "Heart Gallery" exhibit.
"I've worked one-on-one with many of these kids," Phipps said Monday. "I try to help find kids' family connections, and if that's not possible, to find what kind of interests they have, to help them make people connections."
Phipps stressed that all of the kids featured in the exhibit need normalcy, a routine and people to love them; in other words, a home.
Many of the children in the exhibit have also been featured in the "Sunday's Child" feature that runs regularly in The Inter-Mountain.
The children's photos and biographies can be found online at www.wvdhhr.org/oss/adoption/arn/kidmenu.cfm.
There are currently more than 4,000 children in West Virginia's foster care system. Approximately 1,000 of these children are legally eligible to be adopted.
For more information about frameworks, go to www.missionwv.org.