Theresa McNulty and her husband, Joe wanted a family. Joe had a daughter from a previous marriage, but they wanted more children. After speaking with an adoption agency, they were lead to the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, where they discovered foster children available for adoption. They also discovered situations that many of these children face when they are removed from their birth parents.
The first children Theresa and Joe took in wre ages 1,2 and 5. It was a sibling group consisting of a baby sister and her two older brothers. Four years later, Dept. of Social Services (DSS) called to see if they would take a baby boy just 2 days old, whose mother was deemed unfit. With an hour to decide, they said yes. Today, these kids range from ages 4 to 13, and the McNulty’s are also to guardians of another child, a 13-year-old girl. Their oldest is now 19 and attending Bridgewater State College.
The story only begins here: The McNulty’s were horrified to learn the circumstances surrounding the removal of children from their birth parents to be placed in foster homes. Often being taken in the dark of night, the children are immediately removed. They have no time to take their blanket, favorite teddy bear, or anything else familiar. It’s get the child (or children) and to DSS to await a foster home. In the wee hours of the morning, Theresa found that she worried over the plight of these children. Then she had an idea. In 2002, she started to pull together new (or gently used) clothing items, combing set, a pair of pajamas, toothbrush and stuff animals. She used a backpack or duffel bag to put them in and brought them to the DSS office for the foster children that were brought in.
Theresa has become well known in her community and is sometimes surprised by the help of volunteers. People have been known to knock on her door to help. Her efforts and her dedication to this project have impacted the lives of hundreds of children, giving them something to call their own. Today, the Brockton, Massachusetts DSS office is well stocked with backpacks. Theresa created both a website and marketing materials with the voluntary assistance of a nationally known office supply store, Staples, Inc.
McNulty’s volunteer effort is now serving several communities in Southeastern Massachusetts and there are backpacks at any given time for children from birth to 18 years of age. Theresa is moving forward with her plan to make Supply Sacks a statewide program, with the ultimate dream of a national program to ensure that no child comes into foster care without something to call their own (how fitting this is with President Bush declaring that no child be left behind). If Mrs. McNulty has any say, children will always know someone cares.
Man’s home may be his castle someplace else, but the McNulty’s home is the center for SupplySacks.org. Local TV stations and newspapers have interviewed her and her family, Teamsters and Fostering Families Today, both national magazines, have featured Theresa and her family who have been lauded by the local fire chief and many local groups and organizations.