FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    MEDIA CONTACT: Chanel Martin,


JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (Feb. 16, 2023) – How would you feel if you suddenly had to be separated from your siblings for a while? What would you do if you had only five minutes to pack up and leave home – what important items would you bring? What might you miss?

Roughly 90 middle-schoolers at Christ’s Church Academy in Jacksonville had a chance to think about these questions as part of a service-learning opportunity with Family Support Services on Thursday, Feb. 16. Several blocks of students took time to assemble stuffed Xander bunnies, dog and cats donated to FSS by Lavender Life, a company that donates a lavender-filled comfort toy to children entering the foster care system for every stuffed animal they sell.

The company also has an innovative program of donation that started with FSS and Christ’s Church to support youth entering foster care with a comfort toy. This donation is their largest to date in Northeast Florida, with 2,000 bunnies, dogs and cats being assembled and housed at the church’s campus while FSS coordinates delivery of the toys to local care management organizations and child-protective groups – including Daniel, National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) and Jewish Family & Community Services.

While FSS and Christ’s Church have partnered together in previous years to assemble and distribute the stuffed animals locally, this is the first time FSS staff have been able to connect with volunteers in such a personal way. With roughly 900 children and teens in the system of care in Duval County alone, “it’s a necessary way to connect the dots for young volunteers,” said Cailin Smith, the FSS Recruiting and Support Specialist who was one of the agency’s staffers on-site for the event. She noted that the interactive games and question-and-answer session while the students assembled bunnies helped them understand the larger, serious purpose of why they were there.

Family Support Services also sent home a letter for parents to provide context about the day’s activities and talking points they can discuss as a family – and hopefully inspire some of them to serve as foster parents themselves.

To learn more about FSS and how to become a foster family, go to

Click here to begin your fostering journey.


About Family Support Services (FSS) of Duval and Nassau Counties

Family Support Services is the lead agency for family preservation, foster care, and adoption services in Duval, Nassau, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Through community-based care, FSS provides services and programs to help prevent child abuse and neglect, to promote a healthy family environment and to care for our community’s children in foster care. For more information, go to

Contact for more information or to receive a photo and video package for reprint and media placement.

General cutline information: Family Support Services staff members Cailin Smith (left) and Brittany Bryant used interactive games to educate middle-schoolers at Christ’s Church Academy in Jacksonville about the realities of entering foster care during a service-learning day on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. Roughly 90 students participated in a morning of volunteering by assembling stuffed comfort animals for children entering the foster care system in Duval County, donated by Lavender Life. (Photos by Chanel Martin, Family Support Services)