July 20th, 2024

LFS launches suitcase initiative to help foster children

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on October 27, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman LFS CEO Sandra Mintz, campaign chair Barbara Tillsley and LFS director advancement and communication, Michelle Gallucci display what each suitcase will be filled with during Suitcases for Kids project launch this week at Lethbridge Family Services.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Family Services has announced a new initiative the organization recently created to help foster children transition from home to home and are asking for community support.

Director of Advancement and Communication for LFS, Michelle Gallucci told media this week they learned about a specific need through Children’s Services during its LFS Angel Tree Christmas Campaign last year, which sparked the initiative.

“Suitcases for Kids was born out of our learning through Angel Tree. One of the donations we received last year was a suitcase. It came in quite late and no child had asked for one so we wondered about how to honour the donor’s intention with this gift,” said Gallucci.

 She said shortly before Christmas on Dec. 20 a social worker called LFS with the sad news that a boy had to be re-homed and they decided to provide that child with a suitcase filled with comfort things.

 A long-time supporter of Angel Tree read the story about the foster boy and decided to step up to help more children like him. Barbara Tillsley not only decided to help but also became the chair of the Suitcases for Kids Campaign.

 “I am very excited to support the journey of all of these suitcases and many more to come. What we’re trying to do is to create a road map to help quite literally hundreds of local children who experience emergency foster care,” said Tillsley.

 She said normally children in those circumstances take their few belongings in a large plastic bag to their new home.

 “They are scared, they feel alone and they need hope. We can help give that hope and start to restore their dignity with the gift of a suitcase filled with personal items. It’s a real way to show that they are important and cared for,” said Tillsley.

 She said it was not enough for her to just wish that things were different in the world – she had to find a way to actually make a difference. Tillsley said that along with her husband, they will be matching any monetary donation received. They have a goal of $10,000.

 “I think foster children deserve the support of their community, myself included. I truly believe in the power of the community to get together and make a significant change in the lives of our children. These children are our future, they are the next generation of our city, so this is a way for us to actively make a difference in the lives of local kids, to help provide them with a small measure of comfort and security during a difficult time in their lives,” said Tillsley.

She said they launched this initiative Tuesday because October is Foster and Kinship Caregiver Month in Alberta and thought it was fitting to help foster children during their transition.

On Tuesday LFS had 15 suitcases ready to be filled and already matched with children through Children’s Services, but were told they still need 50 more.

That is where the community comes in: LFS is hoping to receive not only monetary donations which will help purchase the suitcases and items to fill them, but is also looking for brand new item donations to fill the suitcases as well.

Each suitcase, once filled, is valued at $200 with the suitcase itself being valued at no more than $90. Each child will receive a suitcase with the following items.

-  Medium size suitcase valued at $90

-  Blanket valued at $15

-  Colouring books and markers or crayons valued at $5

-  Journal and pen valued at $10

-  Crafts or Toys or Game valued at $30

- Snacks valued at $15

- Hygiene Kits valued at $35

- PJ’s or night shirt

- Toothbrush and toothpaste

- Shampoo and conditioner

- Bar soap and body wash

- 1 bath towel

-  1 or 2 facecloths

-  2 pairs of socks

Those wishing to donate can find more information at http://www.lfsfamily.ca.

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