Angels of Grace backpack drive

Caleigh Alday, Miss Clovis 2022, helped organize donations to benefit local foster children. (Courtesy of Miss Clovis)

Heading into the school year, Angels of Grace Foster Family Agency is teaming up with Miss Clovis to help collect donations of backpacks for children in foster care until Aug. 26. 

The Angels of Grace is asking for donations of new or gently used backpacks to help support local foster children in the Central Valley. Backpacks can be dropped off at local Clovis Police and Fire headquarters before Aug. 26, the last day of the drive.

With less than a week and a half away, one of the organizers of the drive is still pushing to get as many donations as possible by putting up posters around Clovis.

While most people are starting their school year this week Caleigh Alday, Miss Clovis 2022, is balancing her time between college and helping others. When Alday isn’t attending classes at Clovis Community College, as a Political Science major, or teaching students as a full time dance teacher at  Clovis Academy where she gets to share her passion of dance with her students, she is helping improve the lives of foster children.

Alday, who helped organize the donation drive, said her dedication to improving the lives of children in foster care is something that is personal to her. 

Alday’s motivation for helping improve the lives of children in foster care came from her grandmother, who was in foster care at the age of two in West Virginia and was placed in over 20 different homes. 

Alday said through her platform as Miss Clovis, she hoped to spread the message of her grandmother’s story.

“In the valley I had seen that there was a need for more outreach and for someone to speak and mentor the children. So I thought what better way to not only dedicate my heart to Clovis because I love it, I love my hometown, but in addition to respect my grandmother and dedicate my season as Miss Clovis to her,” Alday said. 

Why backpacks? After doing interviews with children at the foster agency, Alday said a common theme was the children would tell Alday they had nothing to hold their belongings.

“The backpack drive was inspired by [those interviews] because they can use it for school and they can use it when transitioning in and out of different homes, for whatever they need to make sure their items are safe and secure,” 

The end goal of the drive for Alday is to get as many as possible.

“The more the merrier. If I set a goal I just want to keep reaching it and keep going past that,” Alday said.

Alday said the challenges many of them face are unknown to a majority of people.

During her time helping foster children Alday said she noticed how quickly children at a young age will cling to things that are unhealthy for them such as drugs and alcohol and how it gave her a new perspective on how much of an impact someone can have on the lives of a child for the better and how one drive, like the backpack drive, can change their life.

“It has shown me just so much grace and thankfulness for the community I have because now I’ve been able to share a lot of the foster children’s stories with the community and community leaders and it has touched their lives to the point where those community leaders are now giving back to Angels of Grace as well,” Alday said. 

With Alday’s term as Miss Clovis ending in the next three months, she plans on dedicating that time to helping as many foster children as possible and seeing what she can do for the Angels of Grace foster family agency.

“Even though my title will not be Miss Clovis 2022 anymore my heart will still be dedicated to those children at Angels of grace and with the director Lisa. I definitely made a connection with them,” Alday said. 

With the backpack drive set to end on Aug. 26, Alday urges anyone who can to donate a new or gently used backpack at the drop off stations at the Police and Fire headquarters in Clovis.

“That backpack will be used for class and will be versatile when transitioning into different homes. So I hope everyone knows just how versatile it is and that it isn’t just a school backpack you give and somebody forgets about it. The children will be using their backpack for multiple things in their life.” Alday said.

Adam Ricardo Solis has written for The Collegian as a staff reporter covering a variety of topics and transferred from Fresno City College to Fresno State where he majored in agriculture business. He is excited to incorporate what he has learned about the agriculture industry in the Central Valley into future articles while also covering a variety of other community matters.