As simple as it sounds, providing new suitcases for foster-care kids can help these youth feel a little less scared and a little more happy during their time of need.
Imagine a scared and lonely child, forced to move away from their foster home and toward yet another temporary living situation. And as they prepare to leave and gather their most coveted possessions, all they have to put those items in is a trash bag.
It’s a common scenario. But Focus on the Family is working to change this all-too-common situation while helping kids who are in the foster-care system through its Suitcase Bundle Program.
Suitcases for Foster-Care Kids: How the Suitcase Bundle Program Works
Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive, leads the Suitcase Bundle Program in an effort to restore dignity and self respect to kids who are in the foster care system throughout the United States by providing them with brand-new suitcases.
Each bag is new, just off the shelf, with the price tag still attached. Focus on the Family works with a company that ships the suitcases directly to individuals, families and groups who want to sponsor a suitcase or be part of a team that creates bundles of items to pack inside the suitcases.
Local foster and adoption agencies and programs coordinate getting the suitcases to the kids.
Suitcases for Foster-Care Kids: What is About Owning a New Suitcase that Helps Kids?
It’s all about the suitcases being new–not pre-owned or donated–that brings a sense of joy to a child in the foster-care system.
“There’s something about that ownership that says, ‘this is mine and no one else has had this, this belongs to me,’ because their little world has been so chaotic first and foremost,” Robyn Chambers, vice president of advocacy for children at Focus on the Family, said. “Knowing that they’re worthy of something that no else has had means that someone has seen their value. It’s a visual of their worthiness.”
One collaborator in particular, who works with Focus on the Family, told the organization how happy one foster teen became when he was presented with a suitcase bundle on his way into a foster home, saying he “couldn’t believe how nice the bags were.”
Chambers has heard from families who’ve adopted foster children that the kids will keep their suitcases even once they are in their forever home.
The Suitcase Bundle Program was sparked from Focus on the Family’s Wait No More initiative, a foster and adoption ministry that was started 12 years ago to raise awareness and provide resources for people who want to help kids in need of foster care or adoption throughout the country.
“We chose that name because we want children to wait no more for a forever family,” Chambers said. “These are kiddos who become wards of the state because, for whatever reason, parental rights have been terminated. Sometimes these kids don’t have an extended family to take them, so they go into a foster home.”
Many of these kids are whisked from their homes quickly, often without being able to take many belongings, let alone suitcases or proper bags to carry whatever items they have. And that’s why Chambers and her team started the Suitcase Bundle program in 2019.
To date, Focus on the Family has distributed 25,829 Suitcase Bundles.
Focus on the Family has hundreds of collaborators—many of them faith-based, including more than 5,000 churches—that offer assistance to support the program.
Families, community-based organizations, churches and other religious organizations interested in supporting the Suitcase Bundle Program can learn more at waitnomore.org.
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