Bags filled from the Heart

Have you ever packed all your belongings in a trash bag instead of a suitcase to take a trip? Would you send your children off to a sleepover with their overnight items in a trash bag?

Thousands of children in foster care go from home to home with all their belongings in a trash bag. The people at Together We Rise decided to do something about that and created an engagement opportunity for the public to give back through their “sweet cases” program. Child & Family Services was thrilled to be chosen by Rogers & Gray Insurance of Kingston and EBSCO Information Services headquartered in Ipswich, to be a recipient of their fundraising efforts to provide a total of 280 sweet cases for the children we serve in our Adoption and Community Based Acute Treatment programs.

Lynn Mason-Small, Senior Vice President at Rogers & Gray Insurance contacted us here at CFS to say she had 100 duffel bags filled with items for young boys and girls as well as teens. “We came across the Together We Rise organization and their mission of supportive programs for children in Foster Care really struck a nerve with our internal culture group called our ETF (Engagement Task Force),” said Mrs. Small. “The idea that children going into foster care went with all of their belongings stuffed into a trash bag was so disheartening to us and we knew right away that the ‘Sweet Cases’ program was something we wanted to support to benefit local children.”

Throughout the month of April, Rogers & Gray employees fund raised to buy the cases. They had an online donation platform, but also had a Bake Sale, 50/50 Raffle, and a PR Campaign that brought in donations from outside businesses, received foundation donations and employees even held benefit parties. Rogers & Gray employees and their family members gathered together to decorate, fill, and assemble all of the bags. The teen bags were filled with toiletries, journals, sanitary items, and gift cards. The little kid’s bags contained a blanket, teddy bear, toothbrush and toothpaste, night lights and coloring book/crayons.

Courtney Trudeau, Director of Web Development at EBSCO Information Services, contacted our Lawrence site to donate 180 sweet cases. “We were thrilled to be able to help such a wonderful organization,” stated Ms. Trudeau. EBSCO employees raised funds, then hosted an “Assembly Day” with employees decorating and assembling the bags at their offices. “Having two young children myself and doing a lot of reading on organizations that help the foster system, I stumbled upon Together We Rise, and we decided the Sweet Case program was a great fit” she added. Courtney then worked with Together We Rise to find a local agency where they could donate their bags, and was told to contact Child & Family Services.

“We were surprised and elated when we heard about the donations,” stated Susan Remy, Director of Development at CFS. “It is so disheartening to see children with their belongings tossed in a trash bag; it certainly should not be used for what little belongings these children have. Thanks to the kindness and generous spirit of employees at Rogers & Gray and EBSCO Information Services, children in transition will feel a sense of pride and know that they are valued.”

Together We Rise is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of motivated young adults and former foster youth. Our vision is to improve the lives of foster children in America, who often find themselves forgotten and neglected by the public. We collaborate with community partners to bring resources to foster youth and use service-learning activities to educate volunteers on issues surrounding the foster care system.