FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — With the help of the community, a Franklin non-profit organization continues to spread a message of hope and encouragement to foster children.
Dr. Kathy Kunkel founded “Love on Wheels” three years ago in a building behind the animal hospital she runs in Franklin. The organization provides suitcases filled with basic necessities, toys, and a note of encouragement for kids entering the foster system.
“It’s truly beautiful,” said Dr. Kunkel. “These children often have never had something new before.”
Dr. Kunkel said foster children often keep their few possessions in trash bags, which sends a heartbreaking message to them.
“I just couldn’t bear the idea that these children were told they were trash, and their things were trash.”
Now a room is packed with donations ranging from blankets to toys and school supplies. Dr. Kunkel said none of it would be possible without the help and support from Bethlehem United Methodist Church.
“The church has really lifted me up and helped me push forward and continue to do so to this day,” said Dr. Kunkel.
After Johnny Peppers and his wife decided to open their home to foster children, his life changed forever when the Department of Children’s Services dropped off five siblings at his house in 2015. They arrived malnourished, in poor health, and with a big trash bag filled with a few clothes and toys.
“We went to Love on Wheels and the kids got a suitcase and some basic necessities they can call their own,” said Peppers.
Peppers is also a member of the Bethlehem United Methodist Church and serves on the committee that aims to generate donations for Love on Wheels. He said he saw first hand how the organization can make a difference in the lives of kids who are often scared and unsettled.
“My son Thomas, who is now five, still sleeps with the same stuffed animal that he got from Love on Wheels,” he said.
Love on Wheels currently reaches foster kids in 45 counties in Tennessee. Ultimately, Dr. Kunkel would like to expand to reach every county in Tennessee, and other states. Dr. Kunkel said a woman in New Jersey heard about the idea and wants to start an organization there.
May is National Foster Care Month. For more information on Love on Wheels and how to donate or volunteer visit: http://www.love-on-wheels.org/