Misty Manus has heard countless stories of children displaced from their homes and in need of items many of us might take for granted — basic necessities like soap, shampoo, even a toothbrush.
“We get a lot of feedback from the agencies we serve,” said Manus, who serves as executive director of Adventure Bags Inc., a Winder-based organization that provides age- and gender-appropriate backpacks filled with overnight essentials for children who are in crisis situations — those who are entering foster care, facing homelessness, experiencing loss of housing due to a fire or being temporarily displaced due to domestic violence.
Manus once heard from a law enforcement officer who was on call when three children were recovered after being left out on the streets. When those children received Adventure Bags, inside was everything the officer needed to get those children cleaned up.
When she was fostering children, Manus has a 9-year-old boy come into care due to severe abuse and neglect. He received an Adventure Bag, and he had an important question: ““You mean, this is mine,” he asked, “and no one is going to take it from me?”
Manus assured him the bag was indeed his.
“It’s stories like that that keep us doing what we do,” Manus said. “There’s no doubt what an influence these bags have on these kids’ lives.”
Adventure Bags Inc. was founded in 2011 by the late Debbie Gori to serve foster children. Gori passed away in June 2019 from lung cancer, and Manus has since taken the reins of the organization. In April of this year, Adventure Bags Inc. moved into a facility in downtown Winder and currently works with 150 agencies in 145 counties across the state of Georgia providing bags to children displaced for a variety of reasons, not just those entering foster care.
Manus said the bags give children in need a sense of security and comfort, and the most significant needs at this time include backpacks, blankets and baby toys. The organization is seeing an increase in infants and teens who need services.
Donations of care items, including backpacks, books, stuffed animals, hygiene bags and more, can be made directly to the organization at its facility at 34 Village Court in Winder. Monetary donations are accepted online at adventurebags.org.
Volunteers are also welcome — Manus said the organization recently fulfilled an order for 480 bags and volunteers attending “packing parties” to outfit the backpacks with essential items.
For more information on Adventure Bags Inc., its mission and ways to help, visit adventurebags.org.
— Deanna Allen