BUFORD, Ga. - As the holiday season gets underway, two Buford moms wanted to start a new tradition for families this Christmas. That's why they created The Bag Called Hope as a way to teach kids the importance of giving back.
Jessica Shackelford and Stefanie Rowland are busy wrapping and packing more than just gifts this Christmas. The sisters-in-law and best friends are also packing boxes of hope.
"We are full-time working moms. This is a side thing that we're doing," said Rowland.
Like many parents, the two noticed their homes becoming overrun with unused toys last Christmas, but instead of throwing them away, they came together and thought it could be a teachable moment for their own children.
"It would be awesome to get our kids involved to donate toys they no longer want or need, because if we just go in and purge the playrooms, you're just taking their stuff," explained Shackelford.
(Courtesy of The Bag Called Hope)
That's why they created The Bag Called Hope. Working together, Rowland and Shackelford wrote a book for families to read together about giving back to kids in need during the holidays. They also created the "Hope Bag" which comes straight from Santa's workshop for families to use to collect their own gently used toys.
"The book starts with two kids in their playroom, and they're looking at all the stuff that they have," said Shackelford, "One of the siblings gets the idea that 'Hey, we should do something with these toys. We don't want them thrown away'".
It's even become a family tradition for Rowland and Shackelford. They started a partnership with the nonprofit Second Chance Toys to help families easily find donation centers across the country. They also plan to host a number of local toy drives.
"I feel like that's what all parents want is to raise kids to be kind and share. That's what we're trying to do for ours, and hopefully it helps other kids," said Rowland.
If you're interested in The Bag Called Hope, you can buy the book and bag online. There are also four toy drives available to drop off donations. Click here to see where you can drop off donations locally.