Thousands of children facing dangerous or unhealthy living conditions are removed from their homes in Louisiana and a huge U-Haul truck rolled into the city on Wednesday (Dec.30) to deliver immediate essentials for children taken into custody by state government.
Just shy of 800 so-called “Geaux Bags” were removed from the large truck by volunteers outside Benson Tower next to the Superdome. It was an example of the caring spirit of others for some of the state’s most vulnerable: children.
K.C. Kilpatrick is the Founder and Executive director of Geaux 4 Kids.
“It is pajamas, toiletries, a backpack, a pillow, blanket, comfort items, food, water and most importantly sometimes is a note of encouragement from another child to the child that’s being rescued,” said Kilpatrick.
She said when children are removed from their homes, often they do not leave with much in the way of necessities.
“When kids are rescued, they’re just rescued right then and they’re coming with the clothes on their back and they have seconds to get things together,” said Kilpatrick.
She founded the non-profit after a heart-wrenching experience involving children rescued by the state and brought to her in the Shreveport area.
“The two kids that arrived to me in protective custody of foster care ended up having a meth pipe in a Winn Dixie bag at 1 and 2 years old,” said Kilpatrick. “I got mad, I got hot mad.”
Anger was not Kilpatrick’s only response. She gave the children a permanent home.
“I did adopt them; they are my children now, but I started this from the back of my car in 2013 right after that experience because I knew, people told me you should do something about it. I said I will, help me, help me do something about it,” said Kilpatrick.
The Geaux Bags will not only benefit infants and teens in New Orleans, but also Jefferson, St. Tammany, and Terrebonne Parishes and other parts of the region.
Former State Rep. Walt Leger of New Orleans got involved with the organization while in the legislature. He now serves as a volunteer and helped to unload the truck.
“These kids are victims of crime; they’re coming out of crisis situations and the least that we can do is try to find a way to let them have these basic necessities, so at least when they wake up in the morning, they’ve got a toothbrush and clean pajamas and a change of clothes,” said Leger.
The bags were turned over to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
And according to Geaux 4 Kids, nearly 7,600 kids were in foster care in Louisiana in 2018.
Kelly Orgeron serves on the board of the organization.
“It does your heart good especially this year; we’ve had such a difficult, a challenging year for everyone, so it does your heart good, we know that we can help these kids have a new start,” Orgeron said.
Kilpatrick says during difficult times it is helpful to know someone cares.
“Did someone think of you and had what you needed for that night to be able to comfort you, to be able to have a pack of fresh underwear, the little things that so many people take for granted that unfortunately these kids don’t, this is unusual,” said Kilpatrick.
The children Kilpatrick adopted live with her and her husband and made the trip to the bag delivery site.
The bags and contents cost at least $100 and Kilpatrick said the organization’s major funder is the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.