Lawrence kids take action to support their peers in foster care

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Some Lawrence kids have come up with ideas and taken action this summer to raise funds and create art kits in support of their peers who are in the foster system.

Reese Spencer, 9, “had learned about how difficult life can be for kids in the child welfare system and wanted to do something to help,” according to a news release from Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.


Roughly 165 children are in foster care in Douglas County at any given time, and CASA staff and volunteers have supported 106 Douglas County kids so far this year, according to the release.

Reese, who is president of the Lawrence Public Library’s Kids’ Action Club, campaigned for her leadership role in the club with the idea of assembling art activity kits for CASA kids and their volunteer advocates to work on together.

“They keep getting put in different places,” Reese said in the release. “It’s different from having one place where you’re living; [one] that’s comfortable and that you’re used to.”

The art kits that Reese and the club members created contain short biographies of famous artists, reproductions of their work, art supplies, paper, and other materials to make art inspired by those artists, according to the release.

“Mirrors for creating self-portraits were included in the Frida Kahlo-themed kits and sunflower seeds in honor of Vincent van Gogh’s well-known subject were included in the next kits. The club plans to design and deliver two additional sets of art kits for CASA kids later this year.”

Kelly Konie, 9, recently launched a lemonade stand. But she said it didn’t feel right giving the money to herself.

So the project quickly became a “lemon aid stand.” Kelly collected donations for CASA at the suggestion of her mother, Kate Konie.

Kate Konie / Contributed photo Clayton Konie, 8, and Kelly Konie, 9

“With the help of her 8-year-old brother Clayton and friends holding signs to alert cars down the block, she spent an entire afternoon on a 99-degree July day selling lemonade & popsicles, giving out toys, and tripling her earnings from her previous sale,” according to the release.

“It was just so fun donating the money,” Kelly said in the release.

Sarah Hoadley, CASA’s development coordinator, said in the release that what impressed her most was that the kids came up with the ideas on their own and figured out how to make them happen.

“We were touched to receive their donations out of the blue and realize how much time, effort and imagination went into their projects,” Hoadley said. “Kelly, Reese and their friends care deeply for their peers who are living with such instability; they’re living proof of the positive impact kids can have on the lives of our community’s most vulnerable members.” 

CASA is actively recruiting 20 new volunteer advocates to reach more kids on the waiting list. Learn more about CASA at this link. Learn more about the Lawrence Public Library’s Kids’ Action Club at this link, and other LPL kids clubs at this link.

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