Melanie Lundquist doesn't mind being called a bag lady - so long as it's by children who are 3 to 4 years old.
She is the organizer behind the Sweet Dreams project, a program she started in the fall to distribute care bags to children in Aberdeen's Head Start program.
Head Start is a federally funded preschool program geared toward helping families at or below the poverty line.
"For about six years, I kind of had a vision of creating a project that would make a difference in a life of a child and his or her family," she said.
While she brainstormed what to do for the project, the words "sweet dreams" were a recurring theme. She said she combined that with the notion of a bedtime routine, which was one of her favorite moments with her children.
"I just think back to when my kids were young," she said. "My kids' bedtime routine was my favorite time of the day," she said.
From there, the idea of a bedtime care package came naturally. Each package contains a stuffed animal, pillow, pillowcase, blanket, pajamas, toothbrush and a book.
From August to November, Lundquist received enough donations from individuals, businesses and organizations to wrap 109 individual bags. The donations came in the form of handmade blankets, stuffed animals, other items and monetary donations.
The packages were distributed to Head Start programs in Aberdeen, Mobridge and Ipswich/Pembrook.
Each bag was truly individual, she said. When assembling the bags, Lundquist tries to ensure each one has a unique theme, such as princess or race cars.
"That's kind of the fun thing is to put it all together and make it individual," she said.
And the children are thankful.
"The bags are beautiful. The kids loved it. They absolutely loved the bags, they loved the books," said Mary McDermott, family coordinator for Aberdeen Center Head Start.
While she made packages for all 102 children at the center, only 76 children came to get one.
"She wanted to do all 102 kids, and I was, like, wow. I was amazed that her vision was so large," she said.
Lundquist's vision grew even larger this year. She is undertaking the task of providing care packages to 392 Head Start program kids in 13 counties.
Despite the nearly 400 percent increase, there's a lot of faith placed in Lundquist.
"You know, she'll do it too. Melanie will get it done," McDermott said. "She is very driven and she has a lot of compassion and kids are her thing."
Lundquist estimated she had enough supplies to create 50 care bags, and her goal is to begin packaging them by September.
For the time, the supplies are being stored at Presentation Convent.
"On behalf of the Presentation Sisters, we're just happy to support Melanie," said Sister Helen Jean Washtoak. "Our missionary days are done, but hers are just beginning."