Those who have spent time in foster care frequently mention having their belongings hastily shoved into garbage bags when they were suddenly moved from one home to another.
In an effort to ensure that children and youth in foster care don’t have to bear the humiliation of transporting their only possessions in plastic bags, nonprofit organizations like Treehouse Foundation are using suitcase initiatives where donations are used to buy sturdy luggage instead.
Through October 14, the Treehouse Foundation’s Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America (REFCA) movement is running what it’s dubbed The Suitcase Project Challenge.
Judy Cockerton, who founded of Treehouse Foundation and headed up the suitcase initiative, became interested in foster care 17 years ago when she became a foster parent and decided she wanted to find ways for people who can’t commit to foster parenting to get involved.
“Most Americans think there are only two ways they can support a child or youth placed in foster care: Become a foster parent or adopt a child,” Cockerton said in an email to The Imprint. “This is too much to ask of most people. The result: millions of Americans turn and walk away from the children and youth in their communities who need them the most.”
Supporters of The Suitcase Project Challenge can contact REFCA to find out if there’s a site near them where they can drop off new duffle bags or suitcases, or they can donate to the cause online. A donation of $25 buys one suitcase or two duffle bags.
So far donors in 19 states have participated in the suitcase challenge.