Carmel church partners with Bags of Hope to bring smiles to children in foster care


Bags of Hope Indiana will hold its annual Wrap and Fill event Nov. 12 at Carmel United Methodist Church, with volunteers packing duffel bags with gifts and care items for children in foster care.

“(The bags are) filled with age-appropriate comfort items and personalized for those kids,” said Krysti Widau, cofounder of BOHI. “So, if it’s a 4-year-old girl who likes ‘Frozen’ and Elsa, each bag would have a ‘Frozen’ blanket, a book and age-appropriate book, toiletries and a stuffed animal and one or two toys.”

Widau said her charity works with social workers from different foster agencies that provide information on each child’s interests and needs. Once the bags are prepared, they’re taken to social workers who give them to the children on Thanksgiving.

“It’s important for us that these kids know that the community cares,” Widau said. “The community thinks about them. The community wants them to feel special and loved and thought about.”

Widau and her husband, Ryan Widau, established the charity in February 2018. BOHI was later picked up as a mission by CUMC, which has sponsored the nonprofit for the past four years. The charity is run from their home in Carmel and is heavily supported by volunteers.

Approximately 500 duffle bags are expected to be prepared at this year’s event. Learn more and how to volunteer at