By Rebekah Martin
The Big House Foundation is in the midst of its annual swimsuit and towel drive that benefits Alabama children in foster care.
Husband-and-wife team Blake and Micah Melnick, founders of Big House, initiated the drive in 2009, and it served foster children in Lee County for two years. It has now been six years since the event has gone state-wide and served more than 10,000 children in foster care.
Blake said the idea was born out of a desire to provide children in foster care with the feeling of importance and giving them something that was uniquely theirs.
“We thought it would be really neat to provide a personalized towel to children in foster care because we had noticed how much it meant to kids to have something that was their own – something that had their name on it,” Blake said. “They don’t have a lot of their own belongings. When they live in one house, they use the bed that is there, they play with whatever toys are there. They don’t have a lot of stuff to call their own, so this is just something to call their own, something that they can keep forever.”
Big House volunteers operate embroidery machines that personalize every towel that goes to a child in foster care. Blake said while the process is somewhat time consuming, the product is something that could have a lasting impact on a child.
“Some of the kids have unique names and probably haven’t seen their name sewn on to a towel or anything like that. I think it’s special to make sure they know it was specially made for them. We want to make them feel important and loved, that’s really our main thing. Everything we do, we want to do it out of love,” Blake said. “We want them to know we love them, the community loves them, somebody loves them, and even their heavenly father loves them. We are a Christian organization, so we do send a little card that says they are loved by their heavenly father. These kids are in very difficult situations, and we know that that’s something that they can hold on to, no matter how bad it gets, that they remember … that their heavenly father loves them.”
Donations of new beach towels and swimsuits will continue to be accepted through the end of the month. Donations can be dropped off at the Big House office, located at 211 Samford Avenue.