Local Spotlight: Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach

Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach is a Cincinnati based, volunteer run organization that supports children living in foster care. Krista and Howard Lorenz and their five young children founded Warm Welcomes in 2013, after their eyes were opened to the needs of foster children during their time as a foster family. Today, the Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach Cincinnati provides over 1,000 welcome bags a year to kids in foster care as well as other necessity items and enrichment opportunities. We spoke with founder Krista Lorenz about the work her organization does in our community.  

What does Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach do? 

We partner with different county agencies to provide welcome bags to kids in foster care. The welcome bags are brand new, large backpacks and they are filled with everything from blankets to stuffed animals to full-size toiletries, books, creative items – just the basic things that a kid might need in those first few days. If it’s an infant bag, we have diapers to get them started. 

We also hold four to six welcome events throughout the year. These are free enrichment events for the whole foster family to come to. They might be at Skatetown USA or Perfect North Slopes. We always go to Niederman Family Farm in the fall. Part of this is because we really want to help kids reestablish some positive childhood memories. Some kids have never been able to go to their local movie theater or to go pick their own pumpkin.

You’re a busy mom with five young kids. Why did you decide to start Warm Welcomes? 

My husband and I and our family are a former foster care family and we’ve adopted children from the foster care system. We saw that there was this need where kids were coming into care and not having basic belongings for those first few nights. It’s well known that a lot of kids come into foster care with a black trash bag of the only belongings they have. Sometimes kids are brought into the office at two in the morning and that’s not a, Hey, lets run to Wal-Mart kind of time. We needed these things to be ready and easy for a caseworker to be able to grab in those first chaotic moments of this transition. There was no group providing consistent support to provide toiletries or basic necessities for the kids that were coming in.  

How can the community support Warm Welcomes? 

The biggest need is financial support. Our welcome events, which are some of the highlights of the kids we serve, don’t have outside funding. We have to raise every nickel and dime in order to do those events.  

We’re always collecting any of the supplies on our list. One thing that is hard for us to get is card games for teens and tweens and new stuffed animals no bigger than 6-8 inches, as well as small baby toys like rattles, stacking cups and plastic keys. 

Right now we are collecting new blankets, handmade or store bought and preferably throw size. We need over 1,000 blankets in the coming year.  

Hosting a drive, sponsoring a welcome bag, making a financial donation, organizing a group to come pack welcome bags in our office – those are the key things we need year-round.  

What keeps you motivated to press on? 

We just want kids to know that no matter what their circumstances are, people in their community care for them. That’s where this all came from. It’s a privilege to be able to play this small role.  

Find out more about Warm Welcomes on their website at www.warmwelcomes.org. 


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