Hallmark Channel actress organizes 200 backpack donations for Roanoke Valley foster care children

The donations are part of a national campaign
The donations are part of a national campaign(WDBJ7)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As families are getting ready to head back to school, actress Jen Lilley and local organizations are making sure kids in foster care have the supplies they need.

You may have seen Lilley in a Hallmark Christmas movie or in the soap opera, ‘Days of Our Lives’. But Lilley sees how foster care children in the Roanoke Valley need new school supplies.

“These children fall into the cracks; only 50% of children in foster care graduate high school, and only 3% go on to a graduate school or a college,” Lilley said. “It’s very important that these kids understand that there are people all around them that believe that they can rewrite the narrative of their story.”

The ‘Christmas is Not Canceled’ campaign partners with Roanoke’s Straight Street to help teens and children. Straight Street’s director explained how the ministry is a place for at-risk teens to go after school and on weekends.

“The kids in the foster care system truly need a lot of supplies and the foster care agencies are really strapped financially for what can they do,” Keith Farmer said. “We make sure Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Botetourt County and Craig County will be getting backpacks from Jen.”

The county’s Departments of Social Services received 200 backpacks filled with new notebooks, binders and pencils. The benefit program trainer for Roanoke County’s Department of Social Services explained how the backpacks will help the children starting school in a few weeks and families in the community.

“These backpacks will make a huge difference for those foster families, for the families that we’re offering services to that need that boost to keep their children out of foster care, and just our needy families who are trying to work and are doing their best,” Donna Montgomery said.

Lilley grew up in Cave Spring before heading to Hollywood as an actress. As a Roanoke County native, Lilley explained how she hopes others see the impact of giving back to your hometown.

“I really believe that you are placed where you belong in your local community and if you’re not helping the people in your surrounding community then you’ve missed the mark,” Lilley said.

Each backpack filled with school supplies costs $55. The campaign has put together 2,697 backpacks for kids in foster care across the country.

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