When children are removed from their homes for their own protection by social service agencies, they often leave in a hurry with nothing except the clothes on their back, Eda Stoll of Carmel explained when she contacted me to pass along information about “It’s My Very Own,” a program that provides Bags of Love for each child in that situation.
Eda said she first learned of the program while attending a women’s retreat and met a woman from Saco who was part of the program that was founded by a woman in Kentucky.
“I am one of two chapters in Maine,” Eda explained. “I work through the [Maine] Department of Health and Human Services, and the bags I make go to children in Penobscot County.”
The handmade cloth bags contain several items including a handmade quilt, a stuffed animal and age- and gender-appropriate toys and personal items, she said.
“As you might imagine, these bags become a very important part of these children’s lives,” Eda said.
The bags are 30 inches high and 25 inches wide.
“They’re just like a duffel bag with a drawstring,” Eda said. “They are for children birth to 17 who are, for any reason, removed from their home.”
And while Eda does most of the work herself, she receives help from her Dexter Seventh Day Adventist Church members and fellow members of the Common Notions Quilters Guild of Carmel.
“Everybody helps me,” Eda said. “I’ve been able to give, probably, 130 bags in the past three years.”
Eda said she believes she was pressed by the Lord to do this even though “I told Him I was too busy and you’ve got to provide everything, and He’s provided.”
Eda and her husband, David Stoll, have faced hardship in their lives, losing one son a year ago in a motorcycle accident, having another son with Asperger’s syndrome and a third son who is a member of the U.S. Army stationed now in Afghanistan after having served three tours in Iraq.
But that has not stopped Eda from reaching out to others she believes are having a more difficult time in life than she is: youngsters removed from their homes with nothing to call their own.
Many young people in the Carmel area know Eda well, since she is the head cook at Carmel Elementary.
“I have the summer off, so I can get a lot done,” she told me, “And I have the afternoons off [during the school year].”
This winter, she sewed a lot, too.
“I just opened my home once a week, and if they (her fellow sewers) could come, they came and, if they couldn’t, they couldn’t. I put my sewing machine on the kitchen table and it stayed there.”
Eda loves what she is doing and would be happy to explain the project to others, work with others to make their own Bags of Love or help in any other way.
She would also be happy to receive donations of items to put in the bags, from toys to toothpaste and pens to ponytail holders. Phone cards and disposable cameras are placed in bags for teens, and baby items for infants.
“People can call me to make arrangements for donations,” she said, and for more information as well. Her telephone number is 848-5257.
Monetary donations can be made payable to It’s My Very Own or Bags of Love and mailed to her at 29 Orchard Lane, Carmel 04419.
More information about this program is also available at www.itsmyveryown.org.
Cynthia Hartofelis of Gardiner wrote the BDN recently to thank a good Samaritan who helped her and her boyfriend out of a jam.
After leaving a campsite on a rough road Sunday, Aug. 24, in Aurora, they pulled off Route 9 to find out what was wrong with their truck. It turned out the back tire was destroyed, Cynthia wrote.
Drivers of two vehicles offered to help but were unable to do so.
But then someone driving a white Chevy truck “appeared like an angel from God,” Cynthia wrote. The men discussed locating a spare tire but, instead, the driver of the Chevy, James Travis of Bangor, gave them his.
“I believe there are angels among us,” Cynthia wrote in expressing her gratitude to James for his kindness.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.