Imagine one of the hardest days of your life. Something has gone very wrong with your family and as a result, you're in the backseat of a caseworker's car being driven to a foster home. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be staying in the same town so you can still attend your school. But you might be driven to a whole new neighborhood where you have to add "new kid at school" to your already long list of teenage struggles.
You arrive at the foster home. After brief introductions, your foster parents (such a weird feeling to think of that) show you to your room. You can't wait to close the door and have a moment to process everything.
After everyone leaves your room, you dump your belongings out of the bag you grabbed. You sure didn't bring much. Oh dang ... you forgot your toothbrush. Blinking back tears, you realize there are no tissues in the room. You don't want to open the door again, so you wipe your nose on your sleeve. The house is colder than you're used to and the shiver down your spine is also from nerves. If only you had a soft blanket to wrap around yourself.
Tomorrow, you have to return to school and face the stares and questions. You're angry at the choices that put you here. But you're also sad and missing the familiarity of your old life and routines. You wonder what will happen next? Who can you trust? What will the next weeks/months look like?
When we pack a suitcase for a foster teen, we do our best to imagine the things they will need to ease the transition. Each item is carefully chosen to send a subtle message to them on this hard day .... YOU MATTER.
The NUMBER ONE thing we pack into our suitcases is DIGNITY. No teen should have to ask a foster parent they just met for deodorant, soap, or feminine products! We make sure they have a starter supply of the following:
* body wash
* a loofah
* feminine supplies
* hair ties
* personal water bottle
Beyond the physical essentials, we believe that a few items to soothe emotional needs can go a long way. We pack supplies that can support the teen's need for expression, creativity, and hope. Each suitcase includes:
* a composition journal
* a sketchbook
* colored pencils
* a stress ball or Pop it fidget toy
* soft blanket
* pair of fuzzy socks
It costs approximately $50 to fill one suitcase, but we believe the results are PRICELESS.
If you would like to be part of the team in providing these high-quality suitcases for foster teens in the North Country, please consider making a donation using the button at the top of this page. You can support our work by purchasing "Goose Tales," the little book that brings smiles and raises money for Rising Joy.