By: T. LaShaun Wallace
Imagine walking into a relative’s home for a visit with your clothes stuffed in a huge trash bag. Most people would be mortified, but unfortunately, this is a way of life for foster children. Every day a foster child transitions to another home with his or her belongings in a trash bag, and it shouldn’t be this way.
When my husband and I picked up our first foster child in 2008, we were handed this precious little boy … and a huge black trash bag. We were brand new to the system of foster care so this practice came as a complete surprise to us. Questions such as “Are the clothes clean?”, “Am I supposed to keep the bag?” or even a simple “What IS this?” ran through our minds. However, the newness of it all and the excitement of welcoming a baby into our home made us temporarily forget about that bag, which was promptly left in the garage.
While our first foster child was too young to care where his clothes were placed, that does not hold true for older youth and teens. Carrying belongings in a bag meant for the trash can have a profound effect on self-esteem and cause feelings of worthlessness for older children in foster care. This is where the Duffels for Kids program enters the picture.
Duffels for Kids aims to eliminate the demoralizing practice of placing children in homes with their belongings in trash bags. This part of the child welfare culture must be changed but it begins with you … and me … and others who are willing to donate or walk in solidarity with the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association on May 17 in the Duffels for Kids Walk. While we cannot change the fact that a child must be in foster care in the first place, we can do our part to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity while there. Having a new — not used — duffel bag to call their own is a small step in that direction.
Join us May 17 at Jungle Island … let’s change the culture of using trash bags as luggage for our kids, one duffel at a time.
What: Duffels for Kids Walk
When: May 17, 2014
Where: Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Drive, Miami
Time: 9 a.m.
Event Website: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e93b98sq27b209d2&llr=npxmyrdab