Church donates suitcases, toiletries to kids in foster care

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More than 100 bags of toiletries for kids of all ages were delivered to the Roanoke City Department of Social Services Friday by the Spirit of Unity Baptist Church.

The packs, filled with things like toothpaste and body wash, will go to the 230 children currently in the city’s foster care system.

It’s a system the church’s pastor, Sean Burch, knows all too well.

“I grew up in the Washington, DC-Maryland area and I’ve been in foster care for 19 years of my life,” tells Burch. “When I heard that there were still kids traveling around with items in trash bags, it didn’t sit right with me.”

Pastor Burch started the church’s first Suitcases with Hope Drive last September, collecting over 600 suitcases.

Last month, they held another event, asking folks to fill the suitcases with personal hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

“We collected 130 suitcases; we actually have 90 more on the way,” adds Burch.

“We were immediately able to start giving them to children if they moved placements, if they came into care, so they would have a way to pack their belongings,” says the city’s Adoption Specialist Carrie Guzman. “They immediately put those backpacks on, start carrying the stuffed animals, coloring in the coloring books,”

Guzman says this is a common need across agencies nationwide.

“Unfortunately sometimes we don’t have everyone’s cooperation in giving us the things that belong to the children, so they really come with the clothes on their backs. This way we can give them something right away that they can hold onto that’s theirs,” explains Guzman.

Not only has the initiative given children a sense of comfort in an uncomfortable situation; it has raised more awareness for their needs.

“I’m actually just humbled that people have taken notice and truly want to help out in a tremendous way. I believe that if we can help our kids in the foster care system, we’re going to help our nation as a whole,” says Burch.

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