Some foster agencies may need luggage, but your hand-me-downs may not be what they really need
Since the new year, I have had several people ask me about a post that has been making the rounds on social media recommending donations of luggage for youth in foster care. People have asked,”Do kids really pack their stuff in garbage bags?” and “Is this really a need?” The answer to each of these questions is “yes” and “no.”
Yes. Kids entering foster care do sometimes put their items in trash bags when they are leaving a home, but your suitcase donation is not going to change that. While the child may receive a suitcase later on, it is unlikely they will receive one when they are initially leaving a house.
Yes. Some foster care agencies may have a need for luggage for kids, but not all do. If you aren’t sure what the need is in your community take 2 minutes and search “Foster Care Agency” and your zip code or city name. Contact one of the agencies listed before just showing up to donate luggage – or anything else. And if you make a donation, please be mindful that 20-year-old, ripped or stained luggage does not do any more to help with self-esteem than a trash bag does.
In response to these questions, we have talked with our staff and with some of the young people that we work with to identify how you can support foster youth in your community – beyond beyond one quick donation.
- Learn more about the unique challenges that students in foster care experience and advocate for policy changes to improve their education outcomes at the local and state level.
- Increase awareness through social media platforms and follow organizations like Foster Success on Facebook or Twitter.
- Offer to help a foster parent with transportation of kids to and from after school activities.
- Contact your local school and start (or contribute to) an angel fund to support kids who can’t pay for extracurricular activities which may include foster youth.
- Become a foster parent in Indiana at https://www.indianafostercare.org/s/.
- Consider granting a wish to a child in foster care through an organization like One Simple Wish
- Become a host home to a child in foster care needing short term housing through respite care or consider opening up your home to foster youth in college during school breaks.
- Offer personal assistance in your area of expertise (i.e. resume help, tutoring, entrepreneurship, mentorship, etc.)
- Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) and help look out for a young person’s best interest.
- In addition to considering donating luggage, consider donating professional clothing to help teens and young adults prepare for the workforce. You can donate to local agencies of a clothing closet listed here.
- Contact your local foster care agency and offer to help teens complete their driving hours while in driver education and using learner’s permits.
- Become more trauma-informed and aware of the challenges that young people in foster care are experiencing in our communities every day!
And remember, everyone can do something – start conversations with your immediate network, share this post with your friends!