Hope in a Suitcase
There are approximately 35,000 youths in foster care in Los Angeles County alone. Many children do not have a suitcase or a duffel bag when they enter foster care, especially in emergency situations. They often have to bring whatever belongings they can fit into a plastic trash bag. And, unfortunately, the foster families welcoming the children have had very little time to prepare for their arrival.
Despite efforts to provide a stable family environment for each child, some children in foster care have to move several times before being reunified with their birth-families or before finding a forever family through legal guardianship or adoption. Without a suitcase or duffel bag of their own, their belongings are often carried from placement to placement in a pillow case or a trash bag.
Our hope is to provide a personalized suitcase, with essentials, to the children of Los Angeles as they enter foster care and as they join a loving foster family. The intent of our gesture is to not only reassure children that we value them as individuals, but also that their personal belongings deserve the same respect and care as they do, no matter where they go.
Recognizing the unique needs of older youth to choose their own items, Hope in a Suitcase hosts regular Shopping Days where referred foster tweens and teens can shop – entirely free of charge – for new clothing, luggage, and books. Our Shopping Days allow foster youth, who often feel like they are at the mercy of other people's decisions, the opportunity to choose the items that make them feel great and which fit their personal body types, tastes and needs.
Our mission is to provide children and teens in foster care with a suitcase/duffel bag, along with basic essentials and comfort items, to make their transition and circumstances just a little easier and more dignified.
Hope in a Suitcase's current program concentration is in the Greater Los Angeles area. As we expand, we will be sure to let everyone know!
We are a volunteer-driven organization. Every dollar and in-kind donation we receive is used solely for the benefit of foster children. We are grateful for every partner, every funder, and every volunteer who donates time, goods and money to helping us meet our goals.
Hope in a Suitcase is not a "One Size Fits All Operation." Foster children range in age and size; each stage involves different needs; and the agencies that place children with foster families have different storage requirements and procedures of their own. Hope in a Suitcase works closely with the agencies we serve to best to fit their needs and the needs of children in their care.
Fully-packed and personalized size, age and gender specific bags are delivered to our Foster Family Agency partners (Children's Bureau, Extraordinary Families, Aviva) upon request as they place individual children with a loving foster family. We stock the closets of temporary shelter we serve (Wayfinder, and also DCFS Glendora) so staff can focus on comforting and settling newly arrived children rather than scrambling for basic clothing essentials and comfort items. Children can meet their new foster family with dignity, without the last memory of arriving with a trash bag. And we invite social workers and CASAs to refer tweens and teens with active DCFS cases to our free-of-charge Shopping Days at our new headquarters, "The Emporium: Foster Resource and Literary Center," opened in partnership and shared with The Book Foundation and Foster Care Counts.
Suitcases Are filled with the basic essentials every child deserves. We strive to provide each child with:
- Suitcase or duffel bag
- Comfortable change of clothes
- Blanket, nightlight or other comfort item
- A journal and/or a book
- New socks
- New underwear
- Toiletry kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, brush / comb, deodorant, etc.)
- A handwritten note of support