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Bellingham nonprofit donating items for those caring for children

Ray Deck III, founding director of Skookum Kids, looks at some of the donated goods for foster children in the basement of the children’s temporary shelter in Bellingham on Friday Feb. 12, 2016. Skookum Kids will be offering the supplies twice a month for people who are caring for foster children.
Ray Deck III, founding director of Skookum Kids, looks at some of the donated goods for foster children in the basement of the children’s temporary shelter in Bellingham on Friday Feb. 12, 2016. Skookum Kids will be offering the supplies twice a month for people who are caring for foster children. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Relatives who suddenly find themselves caring for children because mom or dad can’t will be able to get donated clothes , books and toys, thanks to a new Bellingham nonprofit.

Skookum Kids, which in July started to provide shelter for up to 72 hours for children entering the foster care system, will make its supplies available twice a month for relatives or guardians who aren’t licensed as foster care parents.

“Just like with our first program, Skookum House, this one is designed to close a service gap in the foster care system,” founding director Ray Deck III said. “We learned that unlicensed caregivers, like relatives of the children, are often unable to access the same supports that licensed foster parents receive.”

And that includes supplies.

“All of that stuff can be really expensive,” Deck said.

But Skookum has plenty of books, clothes and toys at its shelter, because a generous community has donated them.

The idea to share came from volunteers known as Skookum Elves, who help sort and clean supplies.

“We have so much of it. Is there a way we could bless others with it?” Deck said of their idea.

To help, Skookum is opening its doors the first and third Wednesday of every month from noon to 6 p.m., starting Feb. 17.

Unlicensed caregivers are welcomed. Licensed foster care parents can pick up supplies, too.

“We’re interested in serving both. They just come visit us. They just come see us,” Deck said.

Most of the books, clothes and toys they have are for children up to 12, because that’s the primary group they help.

Deck hopes to someday be able to offer more, perhaps furniture, cribs and car seats — all the things needed to care for children.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

To help

Learn more about Skookum Kids by going to its website at skookumkids.org as well as its Facebook page.

Want to help? Contact the nonprofit at skookumkids@gmail.com or 360-353-4781.

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