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Non-profit launches in Kansas to benefit foster children

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Actor Hayden Byerly chats with fans at Conroy’s in Westwood Thursday evening at a meet and eat to celebrate the launch of Byerly’s non-profit Hayden’s Hope Totes in Kansas. HHT donates duffel bags to foster children who are moved to different homes while in the system.

Actor Hayden Byerly chats with fans at Conroy’s in Westwood Thursday evening at a meet and eat to celebrate the launch of Byerly’s non-profit Hayden’s Hope Totes in Kansas. HHT donates duffel bags to foster children who are moved to different homes while in the system.

TJ Rigg

TJ Rigg

Actor Hayden Byerly chats with fans at Conroy’s in Westwood Thursday evening at a meet and eat to celebrate the launch of Byerly’s non-profit Hayden’s Hope Totes in Kansas. HHT donates duffel bags to foster children who are moved to different homes while in the system.

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Actor Hayden Byerly knows the foster care system better than the average person.

He has his role on Freeform’s The Fosters to thank for it. On the show, he plays Jude Adams Foster, who along with his sister, Callie, have been moved around in several foster homes, many of which had unfit and even abusive foster parents. In the show’s premiere episode, Stef Foster and her partner Lena Adams, who later adopt Jude and Callie, take in the siblings.

To prepare for the role, Byerly met with foster children to better understand their situations. Through his experiences with foster kids, he was inspired to start a non-profit, Hayden’s Hope Totes (HHT).

HHT donates duffel bags to foster children who get moved from different homes. Often, the child is moved with little advanced notice and often is forced to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. HHT seeks to resolve that problem.

“We want to be able to hand a duffel bag to every foster child, but we have not been lucky enough to do that just yet,” said Michelle Byerly, Hayden’s mother.

HHT is based in Los Angeles and recently partnered with FosterAdopt Connect in Kansas to benefit foster kids in Kansas, giving them access to free duffel bags when needed.

Early Thursday morning, Hayden and Michelle dropped off about 75 duffel bags for Kansas foster kids.

“We’ll continue to keep them at a steady flow,” Hayden said. “They say they take in about 18 kids a month. I didn’t want to bring them in, like 18 bags for one month, or 36 for two. I really wanted to get them out there and get them a good stockpile for a couple of months and then keep giving them shipments of 75 to 100 at a time.”

The launch in Kansas was celebrated at an event in Westwood, a suburb of Kansas City, Thursday night. It was a “meet and eat” style event at Conroy’s, where attendees got to eat dinner and meet with Hayden in-person.

Hayden and Michelle hope to expand HHT even more in the future. Michelle said HHT needs to find people willing to spread the message in their communities.

“Really, it’s about giving back to your community and there’s no better way to give back to your community than helping your next generation in need,” she said.

Hayden added it’s all about spreading the word and about being educated about the foster care system.

“I want to become a foster parent,” he said. “I want to adopt. I want to have kids of my own, but I also want to have kids who I get to bring into my family and introduce to my life and help them in whatever way I can. I think if people learn more about it, they’ll love it and want to be apart of it.”

To learn more about HHT, visit http://haydenshopetotes.org/

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