If you are reading a blog like this one, you care about kids.
You want your children grow up feeling loved and having everything they need. You want the best for them and pour your everything into equipping them to be happy productive adults. And you probably want the cocoon of warmth and protection to surround their friends, your nieces and nephews, and all the little people in your life.
Some Kids Don’t Have This
I want to weep when I think of all of the kids who don’t have warm, loving families. Thousands of children in our community are navigating the foster care system. Their worlds have broken apart for different reasons and they often are left relying on strangers to help them through.
Instead of having parents that scour blogs for tips on how to get them to eat their vegetables, they shuffle from temporary place to temporary place.
It is heartbreaking to know that the situation foster kids often leave is so dire that their essentials are thrown into a garbage bag–sometimes because of a concern for their safety; often because nothing else is available. I imagine it’s hard to believe that anyone cares when a garbage bag contains your life.
Foster Kids Matter
Becky, a former social worker, needed to do something to show these kids that someone cared. In 2016, she started Cases of Love to provide luggage and toiletries for foster kids.
She started the program so that children, who had already been through trauma, didn’t have to suffer the indignity of entering new situations carrying their belongings in a black trash bag. Cases of Love reminds foster children that someone in the community cares. That their things aren’t garbage. That they aren’t garbage.
Mamas–I know we aren’t all equipped to be foster parents, or to work in group homes, or to advocate for kids who can’t be with loving parents.
What We Can Do
But we can give them a suitcase so they don’t have to worry about a trash bag splitting and dumping their few possessions onto a street. We can give them toiletries so they can try to take care of themselves. We can get our children involved in helping kids their own age out.
This year, Liberty High School student council is joining the effort to help provide bags and toiletries for foster kids. Maybe your kids would like to do something similar at their own school?
When I spoke with Becky about this amazing outreach, she mentioned some things that really touched her.
First, seeing the joy on a kid’s face when they receive something new, of their own. It seems so little to us. (How many unused backpacks are hanging around your home?) But it means the world to them. Second, some people have enclosed letters of encouragement. Many of the letters are from other children. The letters serve as additional affirmation that someone cares.
It Is Up to Us
Last year, more than 4,000 pieces of luggage were donated and they were all distributed before the end of the year. More than half of the donations came from two sponsors that won’t be able to participate this year. All of the donations collected go to foster kids in El Paso and Pueblo Counties.
This is Becky’s third year hosting a luggage and toiletry drive. She has made it easy for you–yes, you–to care for foster kids. She said there is a real need for toiletries for babies (think baby shampoo) and pre-teens and teens (shaving kits, deodorant, feminine hygiene products). You can drop off new or gently used suitcases, duffle bags, and backpacks and unopened hygiene products at:
Office of the Sheriff (Floors 1 and 3) Criminal Justice Center
24-Hour Fitness (Briargate, Austin Bluffs, and Broadmoor locations)
Nordstrom Rack (North Academy)
Focus on the Family (Briargate)
These locations are accepting donations from April 1 through April 28, 2018. But the need never goes away. Be sure to like the Cases of Love Facebook page. Becky will take donations to help foster kids at any time and will make sure that your donations get to kids that could use resources.
One final note: the kids receiving these donations have often never had anything new. Please donate bags that are new, or look new. It’ll make all the difference.