Break the Silence with Bags of Hope Fun Fair held earlier this month in Knox

 Even K9 Officer Jimy was having fun at the fun fair. North Judson Town Marshall Kelly Fisher (left) would toss a balloon up in the air and Jimy would try and bounce it. Officer Rico Simpson (right) watched in amusement (Make sure to see both photos).Children and their parents were entertained with a bounce house, cotton candy, and other activities. There were many community organizations on hand to help entertain, but they also aided in spreading awareness on how to prevent child abuse.
James Master

Earlier this month, community organizations and individuals came together to help spread awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Mary Beth Photography, Starke County Department of Child Services, and the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office held the first Break the Silence with Bags of Hope Fun Fair at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in Knox.

Among those that had booths were the North Judson Police Department, the Kid’s Closet, the Starke County Department of Child Services and many others.

Children were entertained with a bounce house, games, cotton candy, a certain “mouse” celebrity, and many other activities.

Parents shared in this entertainment, but they were also given information about how to prevent child abuse.

Guest speaker for the night was Mary Beth Johnson. Johnson and her family, for the last three years, has been collecting items and making bags of hope. Bags of Hope are given to children who have been removed from their homes.

The items inside of the bags include basic necessities, but they are items that will belong solely to that child.

Johnson recounted how she herself was a foster child in Starke County.

“When they take you, you normally just have the clothes that you’re wearing. You don’t have anything that actually belongs to you and even if you have great foster parents, sometimes they can’t get the things they need right away,” said Johnson.

About the Bags of Hope, Johnson said, “That’s a bag that belongs to just them and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me as a foster child to have something that just was my own. So I think that was the main reason behind starting it.”

If you missed the fun fair, then there is still time to donate items:
• Diapers (size 2 or 4)
• Baby wipes
• Body wash
• Shampoo
• Deodorant
• Stuffed Animals
• Baby Books
• Pull Ups
• Baby Powder
• Lotion
• Toothbrush
• Toothpaste
• Coloring Book
• Coloring Pencils/Crayons

Used items and money will not be accepted.

You can take the above listed items to the following locations:
• North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library
• North Judson Town Hall
• Hamlet Town Hall
• Starke County Department of Child Services
• Starke County Sheriff’s Department
• Knox Town Hall

Donations will be accepted the entire month of April, but the bags will be packed on April 27 so if you can drop off your items before then it would be appreciated.

On the morning of April 27 there will be a 5k event followed by pre-registered volunteers packing the bags items were collected for, on the County Courthouse lawn.

Read more news from Starke County in this in this week’s edition of The Leader. It is on sale now. Call 574-936-3101 to subscribe.