CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Imagine you're pulled out of your home in the middle of the night and your personal belongings are just thrown inside a black trash bag.
This is sadly the reality for hundreds of foster kids in Mecklenburg County. That's why Ricky Patel founded Its4thekids about a decade ago.
"We've been creating programs where we help the children, we take care of foster children," Patel said. "We've adopted 42 children."
Patel said when his organization began working with North Carolina, they were shocked to learn children going through the system are taken from their homes and given a simple trash bag.
"We thought this was devastating," Patel said. "It's the fact that they're being taken away from their home, their families, everything else and then they're placed in a situation where they're taking this trash bag."
So they came up with a program they later named, Bags of Hope, which provides foster children with a duffle bag full of items they'll need at their new foster home.
Together, Its4thekids and local restaurant PARA Charlotte created a menu item where a portion of the proceeds went toward Its4TheKids Bags of Hope program.
Every dollar from PARA Charlotte's lobster shooter goes toward the program. The director of the South End restaurant, David Feimster, said the partnership with Its4thekids was an easy decision to make.
"So when we found out that the children were going home to home with a trash bag, we knew that we had to do something better," Feimster said.
The lobster shooter, Feimster explained, is Maine lobster and sits on top of a lobster broth that has been reduced for about six hours. They then put it in a charger with Nitrous CO2 to incorporate the foam.
"It's delicious," Feimster said. "For every lobster shooter, $1 goes to Its4theKids."
Patel, who said he's 100% involved in every Its4TheKids event said it's essential for him to be boots on the ground.
"Whenever I see these children who are going through this traumatic process, and when we provide them with the items just that small smile that one smile just for a second where they realize today is not going to be as horrible as yesterday," Patel said.
Patel said he and his organization are working on the goal of fulfilling its 1 million meal promise where they are providing 1 million meals to children in need.
"And a lot of those meals have been going out to Haiti," Patel said. "But they go out literally anywhere throughout the United States where children are malnourished or are not being provided with the food they need."
Wake Up Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at Wake Up Charlotte.
SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || TuneIn || Google Podcasts
All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.