Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Ted Chalfant’s mother was a foster parent in the 1970s. He recalls at any given time having up to eight foster children in their home. “They all came into our home the same way,” Ted said. “With just the clothes on their backs, or occasionally with a few small items in a black trash bag or a paper sack. That’s when the seed was planted. I knew there was something wrong with the system. Even as a child I recognized the injustice … that these kids had nothing.”
Fast forward to 2014, Ted and his wife, Stefanee, of Nibley, founded Little Lambs Foundation for Kids (Little Lambs) with the goal of helping 40 to 50 kids here in Cache Valley each year. “We wanted to provide foster kids with these basic items that I remembered them not having,” Ted said. “They didn’t have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other hygiene items. They didn’t have a toy or plush animal, they didn’t have their own blanket or socks, coloring books, or crayons … that was our goal, to help local children with those items.”
Ted says that the caseworkers that he worked with at the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) shared what the newly instituted Little Lambs was doing in Cache Valley with one of the other offices in the state and word spread quickly. Within 30 days they were serving four counties, and within six months they had delivered over 750 comfort kids to foster children in Utah.
“Our comfort kits are now available to every DCFS office in the state,” Ted said. Before COVID, Little Lambs distributed between 2,000 and 2,500 comfort kits each year. Last year many of the DCFS offices and schools were closed and many children had to be left in hard situations longer than they should have, but the need was and is still there — maybe more than ever.
Ted had built his career as a realtor for over a decade, but two years ago he put his real estate license into inactive status and made Little Lambs his full-time job. “These children need me more than the real estate market.”
Stefanee serves as the Little Lambs program director and oversees the creation of every comfort that goes out.
In addition to comfort and hygiene kits for foster children, Little Lambs provides backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need at the beginning of each school year. “We were able to distribute 1,000 backpacks this year,” Ted said.
They also have a diaper bank. “In 2017 I started getting calls from families who needed diapers,” Ted said. “Families would offer to borrow and pay us back for the diapers — these families just could not provide the diapers their children needed.”
In 2018 they started a Little Lambs Diaper Bank. This is a program for families who fall below the Federal poverty guideline. “We provide them with a supplement of diapers; we don’t provide all of their diapers,” Ted said. “Research by The National Diaper Bank found that many families are short about 10 diapers a week. We provide anywhere between 60 and 80 diapers per child in need each month, along with wipes, and other hygiene items.”
Families who qualify can come in once a month. Little Lambs currently serves 407 children with verified diaper need in Cache Valley.
Ted says it is not uncommon for families who go through the program and move beyond their need to come back and give as soon as they can. “We have an amazing community,” Ted said. “Our program is lucky to have such amazing support. Our community is very service-based; people are willing to help their neighbors, and it allows us to do what we do.”
“The program works because of community support,” Ted said. Little Lambs operates with a volunteer board, an Americorps Vista, and between 1,000 and 1,500 community volunteers each year, including a group of Teen Ambassadors.
From financial donations to people making quilts and other handmade comfort items to those who hold in-kind donation drives for hygiene items, school supplies, or diapers, the volunteers make the difference. “These people make it so we don’t have to scramble to provide these kids with comfort kits when they need them,” Ted said.
If you would like to donate or support Little Lambs, you can visit littlelambsofutah.org/donate to set up a one-time or recurring donation, or see a list of their most needed items. “A recurring donation, even $5 a month, can make a big impact,” Ted said.
You can also follow @littlelambsfoundationforkids on Facebook or Instagram to see posts calling for specific items.