Bridge the Gap began at a grassroots level in 1999 when two compassionate and concerned Vancouver (WA) women realized that foster children who were placed after all the holiday toy and clothing donations had been distributed often did not receive any gifts. Another concern was that if foster children received Christmas-time gifts, it was because their foster family used their own money and scrambled to buy the gifts. In 1999 BTG served 80 children who came into foster care close to Christmas.
Since its establishment, Bridge the Gap (a 501c3 non profit organization) has enabled many children in foster care to experience "firsts" - to receive Christmas presents or have a birthday celebration, to receive new clothes, to play a sport, to receive tutoring, to attend summer camp or to excel at a special skill because they received needed attention, training and affirmation. Often, children come into the foster care system with only the clothes on their back. There is often not time or opportunity for the police officer or social worker who picks up the child to find a favorite book, teddy bear, or favorite doll. Important and familiar things are left behind, especially if methamphetamine contamination is involved, if the child has to leave in a flurry of chaos, or if they have experienced a long period of profound neglect. In its 14 years of existence BTG, which is 100% privately funded, has received nearly a half million dollars in cash donations and a quarter million dollars worth of toys, clothes and other in-kind donations. These donations have helped to soften the heartache of placement away from home and to improve the lives of thousands of children who enter foster care. Most recently 45% of BTG funds have gone to help pay for foster children's sports participation, 19% to skill building/tutoring, 16% to camp attendance, 9% to music or art involvement and 11% to miscellaneous items (i.e. graduation costs, haircuts, birthday gifts, ASB cards, even college application fees).