Home Living Community “Tatum’s Totes” Given to Foster Children

“Tatum’s Totes” Given to Foster Children

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Elizabeth Frost and her daughter volunteer to gather gifts at Bible Baptist Church. Photo by Michelle Kennedy.

Over 250 Vermont foster children received a gift bag filled with items such as fuzzy socks and warm blankets, games, toys, crafts, and personal care products in an effort called “Tatum’s Totes” run by Green Mountain United Way. 

Each year, Tatum’s Totes brings gifts to children in foster care throughout northern and central Vermont with help from local businesses such as Hickok and Boardman and Union Mutual Insurance; the Barre Rotary Club; the Rotaract group through Norwich University; as well as local churches such as the First Congregational Church of Berlin; Bible Baptist Church, and the Warren United Church. 

Green Mountain United Way staff Michelle Kennedy, left, and Julia Davis, right, distributing Tatum’s Totes. Photo by Tawnya Kristen.

Many individuals contributed after hearing on Facebook from Executive Director Tawnya Kristen that more children urgently needed sponsors than the Green Mountain United Way realized. 

“I went on my personal Facebook page and just posted that we had about 25 or so kids who still needed sponsors, and the response just from my friends was overwhelming. We then made a whole group called #TeamLove.  It is becoming a regular group devoted to helping out Tatum’s Totes and our local foster kids throughout the year,” Kristen said. 

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Kristen describes how the program works on the United Way website: “We help to provide not only the basics like a sturdy backpack, books, socks, hygiene items (like soap, a toothbrush, paste and floss), and blankets, but something that a child can cherish, like a stuffed animal, toy, or game. We hope that, along with the foster family they are going to live with, we are giving these children back a part of their childhood.”

Whether it’s the family of a working single mother facing the choice between Christmas gifts for her children or another heating oil fill up; or a foster child being sent with their belongings in a garbage bag to a new home, the Green Mountain United Way works to support struggling families in Caledonia, Essex, Orleans, Orange, and Washington counties. 

For more information go to https://gmunitedway.org/tatumstotes/