(NEW YORK) — Thanks to the work of volunteers, 50,000 kids in the foster care system will get “sweet cases” this year.
The sweet cases — stocked with teddy bear, blanket, coloring book, crayons and a hygiene kit — are duffel bags decorated for the kids by volunteers at Together We Rise, a non-profit organization that provides programs to helps children in foster care.
The stuffed duffel bags, according to Emmalee Jordan, the organization’s community manager, replace the two trash bags generally given to kids in the foster care system to transport their belongings.
“When children are entering foster care or transitioning between homes they are usually given two trash bags to put their belongings in. Often times, children are removed from homes very quickly and this is all that social workers have on hand,” Jordan told ABC News. “Through these transitions, children often lose many of their personal belongings.”
Together We Rise is on a mission to change that. The organization said this year it has given sweet cases to more than 50,000 kids, the most any year since the program started in 2011, and has distributed a total of 140,000 cases over the years.
“The bags are important because they meet both the physical and emotional needs of children in foster care,” Jordan said. “Physically, they provide a practical way for children to keep track of their belongings through their different placements and homes.”
“Emotionally, the bags and the items inside provide comfort and a sense of stability to children going through a time of great instability and insecurity,” she said. “The way the bags are decorated and filled are meant to portray hope to the children that are receiving them and instill in them a sense that they are valued.”
Jordan said volunteers can either fundraise for the sweet cases or sponsor them and then Together We Rise ships the materials needed to decorate and fill them. The Sweet Case are then donated locally, in the volunteer’s area.
Volunteers can certainly feel good about their work, she said, since many kids have expressed how much the cases have meant.
“The children are very excited when they receive their own bag and some of them even refer to the bags as presents,” Jordan said. “We have an entire wall in our office filled with thank you’s that we have received from children who have been given Sweet Cases.”
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