"This is a result of a traffic stop in 2019," said Pennsylvania State Trooper Kevin Kochka. "The items that you see here were recovered as a result of an investigation done by our trooper that revealed a retail theft ring."
Roughly 300 articles of clothing, 45 pairs of shoes, and 17 handbags have been idly waiting for a new home after they were recovered by Trooper Matthew Dwyer. The items were unable to be touched until a court arrived at final disposition for the offenders.
"It would either be destroyed, donated, or given back to the original owner," said Trooper Kochka, who is a community service and public information officer with Troop J in Avondale.
In this case, the items were collected from various outlets which had already received restitution. That left the troopers in a perfect position to make a donation to a brand new foster closet.
"It's always been something that has been on our wishlist," said Simi Riesner, the Executive Director at MAZI, about starting a foster closet. "And just something that we didn't really have the means to do."
This morning, that changed thanks to the Pennsylvania State Troopers' donation.
"It just felt like it was meant to be," she said.
She will call it, "MAZI's Connection Collective," and will seek to make it even more than a place where foster families can simply shop for items at no cost.
Being an adoptive child herself, Riesner is impassioned by the thought of other youth who were not as lucky.
"With all adoption and foster care and out-of-home placement comes trauma," she said. "So, we are just trying to recognize that."
Riesner illustrates a scenario in which her new collective may be able to help.
"You might get an emergency placement in the middle of the night, and that child or youth might come with the clothes on their back, or a couple things in a trash bag, and then, maybe that youth has to move again," she said. "We would love for those families to be able to reach out to us and say, 'can you help?'"
Hopefully, as more donations continue to reach her adoption and family services center, more families will hear, "yes," as an answer.
To learn more, visit the MAZI's Connection Collective website.
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