Anna Weston of Ontario (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

ONTARIO – Anna Weston, 10, knows what it’s like to move to a strange home with little you can call your own.

Now, the Pioneer Elementary School fourth-grader and CASA of Eastern Oregon are teaming up to make sure foster children always have something they can call their own.

CASA, which operates in Malheur County, is the volunteer-driven program providing court-appointed special advocates to children placed into foster care.

Anna wrote an essay about her experiences and her hope to provide supplies and toys.

CASA of Eastern Oregon, keying off her essay, is launching “Anna’s Wish” – a project to round up cash and goods to supply backpacks for children in foster care. The organization estimates that for $30, it can stock a backpack with personal care items, a stuffed animal, books and more.

Donors can contribute cash or specific items, which need to be new.

Anna said that when she was in foster care, a stuffed dog was one of her favorite possessions. She has since been adopted by an Ontario family.

She said she decided to take on the project because she has been taught that “it’s not just about you.”

-- Les Zaitz

Anna’s Wish

Contributions: Mail checks to CASA of Eastern Oregon with Anna on the memo line. Address: 1937 Washington Ave., Baker City OR 97814.

Goods: Call the Malheur County CASA operation at 541-709-8134 to arrange delivery. Items specifically needed: tooth brushes, books for children from toddlers to teenagers, stuffed animals.

Goal: One backpack and supplies for each child in foster care in Malheur County by April 30. The county has 179 children in care.

Her essay:

What I could do to build a better world

Hello my name is Anna I am 9 years old. I was in foster care for 3.5 years. These are some ideas for how I would build a better world, by helping foster kids.

First when a kid is removed from a home I would like to give them a new or used backpack or a suitcase. I say this because putting your clothes in a garbage bag is a very uncomfortable position, I know this because it happened to me and I did not like it when I moved from home to home. I would have wished I had a backpack or suitcase for my stuff alone.

How would I go about getting these? I would first make fliers, and I would talk to my principal and teachers about sending fliers home with kids to parents, asking them to donate their last-year backpacks or any old suitcases. I would also pass the fliers out around town to get as many as I could for foster kids to have something for there things.

The second thing I would do is try to get a toy or book for the foster kids. The reason is because when I came into foster care, I didn’t have toys or books of my own and only had a garbage bag of clothes. I would also like to get kids stuffed animals because at night time it’s nice to have something to hug.

When I grow up I want to be a foster mom like my mom. I want to be a foster mom to give kids a good home that they deserve. When I become a foster parent, I’ll give every kid that comes to my house a backpack or suitcase if they don’t have one. Also a stuffed animal so they feel safe and comfortable.

I’d do this because I want to make them as happy as I could. Kids don’t always want to hug strangers.

When I grow up, I will be a foster mom and give all kids a good home, that all children deserve.

Being a foster mom will help build a better world because kids that do not have a good home deserve one. Just because their parents are bad or do not make good choices, does not mean the kids are bad. So as a foster mom I am going to do this stuff.

I will also find out as much stuff as I can about their siblings if they have any. The reason I will do this is because I do not have that many memories of my biological siblings or birth parents.

The other thing I would want to do is give them new clean clothes, give them healthy food, and make sure they are safe.

I would make sure the foster kids would have fun and go to the community library because I think kids should read a lot more and have fun instead of being on electronics all day.

These are some ways I would build a better world.

-- Anna Weston

Note: This is article is part of a series by the Malheur Enterprise on challenges facing the foster care system in Oregon and Malheur County.

PART I: Malheur County system in crisis

PART I: Volunteers focus on speaking for kids

PART II: Foster parents face state neglect

PART III: Snake River proves barrier to relatives for foster kids