BLACKFOOT — The Village, a foster care closet, will host its grand opening on Friday at 10 a.m. at its new location, 35 E. Pacific Street in Blackfoot. At the grand opening, a ribbon-cutting will take place, along with light refreshments and the ability for the public to tour the facility and learn more about how The Village is helping fill a giant need in Southeastern Idaho.

“There are currently over 330 children in foster care in Southeast Idaho. That’s a large number of children with a large number of needs,” said Jacque Burt, the director of The Village. “If we as a community, or as these children’s village, step up and provide for them while they are in care, we can reduce the stress and trauma on these children,” she added.

While the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare does provide monthly stipends and vouchers for foster families, The Village hopes to fill in the gap.

“Many times, a child comes into care with little or no notice. We can provide that child with the basic necessities immediately to help lessen the stress of their transition into foster care. We also help foster youth when an unexpected need arises. Their foster family or social worker can contact us and we try to fulfill the request or ask if someone in the community can help,” commented Burt.

As a former foster parent, Burt knows the importance of a strong community.

“I have had numerous foster youth in my own home, and I have seen the impact a new pair of pants, a suitcase or a blanket of their own makes. I’ve seen first hand the change it can make in a child’s self-esteem when they realize that someone cares. It reinforces what the caseworker and the foster families teach them, that people care about them and that they matter. These children need a large village to support them and to lift them up,” Burt shared.

Community members have already taken to raising money for needed items and donating their time to help support local youth in care.

“A nail tech in Rexburg did a fundraiser with her clients and donated over $500 in gift cards. One local foster dad has purchased supplies for the store as well as many items from our Amazon Wish List,” recalled Burt. “Another foster family in Rexburg has made and donated numerous Independent Living Kits for children turning 18. A Blackfoot business owner has offered to launder clothing donations that need freshening up before we can make them available. Countless others have donated new and gently used clothing, shoes, toys, coats, suitcases and diapers and wipes.”

Burt wants to remind people, that it truly does take a village to raise a child.

“These children live in our community and in our homes. They are in foster care due to no fault of their own. They need The Village and their community to be supportive and compassionate as they go through this trying time in their lives. Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story," says former foster youth, Josh Shipp. By opening The Village we can offer the community a way to be one of those caring adults. A child can come into the store and choose items for themselves that they need. This gives them the gift of choice and a voice,” Burt shared

For ways you can get involved with helping at The Village or to make a donation, you can contact Jacque Burt, director of The Village, at 208-569-6298. You can also find store hours and more information on The Village's Facebook page by searching "The Village-Southeast Idaho."