2018-08-23 / Front Page

Dominion Energy provides precious cargo

By Cathy Cobbs


Pictured are Kristen Beckham, from Dominion Energy; Nicole Davis, Ernest Hallman, and Crystal Larkins, treatment coordinators at the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program (SCYAP). The treatment coordinators are the ones who actually give the bags to the foster children so they especially appreciate having the bags available. Pictured are Kristen Beckham, from Dominion Energy; Nicole Davis, Ernest Hallman, and Crystal Larkins, treatment coordinators at the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program (SCYAP). The treatment coordinators are the ones who actually give the bags to the foster children so they especially appreciate having the bags available. Most people think of children as precious cargo, to be loved and cherished throughout their journey from infancy to adulthood.

But what happens to those children who find themselves in the foster care system, without the support system most youth take for granted? Among its other services, the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program (SCYAP) is working to ensure children know they are precious cargo.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy, SCYAP will be able to continue to provide each child entering foster care with duffel bags filled with both comfort and practical items to help them to transition more easily in what is often a difficult journey.

The program, called “Precious Cargo,” provides duffel bags for foster children as they come into SCYAP care. According to the organization’s press release, “the bags are designed to be durable enough the children can use them over and over to pack their belongings as they transition back to their biological parents, to another foster home, or to their forever family through adoption.”

The bags are filled with at least $50 worth of necessities the children will need immediately, such as hygiene items and school supplies, along with items especially included to offer comfort during what is often a difficult transition.

“Many children who enter foster care have had to leave their precious belongings behind or are given only a trash bag to carry their possessions, which is truly heartbreaking. Dominion Energy recognized the opportunity to change that by partnering with SCYAP,” said Kristen Beckham, external affairs representative for Dominion Energy. “Through the Precious Cargo Program, we can support children in foster care one duffel at a time.”

According to Gail Cole, SCYAP development liaison, the organization distributes more than 500 Precious Cargo bags to foster children every year. The bags are stocked with items specific for each particular age group and separated by male and female, so they are more personalized for each child.

She notes although all of the items in the bag are helpful, the favorites are a blanket and stuffed animal.

“The stuffed animal usually comes out first for a big hug, regardless of the child’s age. The stuffed animal and blanket offer comfort and support to the child the day he or she enters SCYAP foster care,” said Cole.

Cole said the children are extremely grateful for every item contained in the bag.

“Most of the items are things we take for granted, but these children get so excited about all of it, even something as simple as a toothbrush,” she said.

Cole said one of the first questions the children ask is, “Do I get to keep all this?”

The Precious Cargo program has been in existence since 2004 and has given away thousands of duffel bags to children from birth to 18 years old. This is the first year Dominion has been involved in the effort.

“We are pleased and grateful to be working with the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to provide this much needed service to our special children,” Rhonda McCurry, SCYAP chief operating officer, said. “Precious Cargo bags are designed to make a child’s transition into a new home, school, and community a little easier. It’s wonderful of Dominion Energy to recognize this need for our children and in our community and assist us with this meaningful project.”

The South Carolina Youth Advocate Program (SCYAP) is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3), organization that provides a variety of services to children and families throughout South Carolina. The organization primarily provides specialized foster care and community-based services for youth with special needs. SCYAP offers a comprehensive array of programs and services to youth and families dealing with difficult issues and crises.

To learn more about SCYAP and the Precious Cargo Program, visit www.scyap.com/Home.aspx.

Dominion Energy contributes more than $20 million annually to the communities it serves and actively supports veterans and their families. To learn about the company’s growing presence in South Carolina, visit www.DominionEnergySouth.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

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