With nearly 10,000 Oklahoma children in foster care, the need for clothing is pressing. A local faith-based nonprofit organization helps fill that need.
Founded on the concept of compassion one year ago, Luggage with Love provides clothing and basic necessities to children when they arrive at a foster home.
Typically, when a child enters Department of Human Services (DHS) custody, their possessions often only include the clothes theyre wearing.
Previously, DHS provided a clothing voucher worth about $100 to families.
Last summer, DHS announced it could no longer provide vouchers, leaving a need that Luggage with Love tries to help fill.
Marcie Carrico and a small group from her church launched Luggage with Love to help foster children and foster families on their first night together.
Working out of her garage, Carrico originally could only serve Cleveland County.
These days, Luggage with Love volunteers work out of a warehouse and serve Cleveland, McClain, Pottawatomie, Garvin, Seminole and Lincoln counties. Carrico said she plans to expand statewide.
While we currently dont officially serve outside of those counties, we try to make it happen if theres a foster child in need anywhere in Oklahoma, Carrico said. Weve helped as far as Woodward and Lawton.
Luggage with Love recently celebrated its first anniversary with a silent auction, and proceeds will help fulfill basic needs for foster children.
Like most charities, Luggage with Love depends upon its volunteers. The nonprofits reach has changed but its mission hasnt.
Once a child is placed, either the family or DHS shares the childs age and gender with Luggage with Love before a piece of luggage is filled to meet the childs needs.
Each suitcase contains two outfits, pajamas, socks and shoes, underwear, toiletry and hygiene items, a blanket, appropriate seasonal items and a Bible.
If the child is in school, he or she also receives a supply-filled backpack. Volunteers fill the luggage in the warehouse.
A volunteer then delivers the items to the home. The idea of easing the childs and familys stress of that first night is central to Luggage with Loves mission.
Deliveries are made the same day requests are received, if the order is made by 4 p.m.
Before leaving, the volunteer also typically prays with the foster family.
Were not just providing basic items, Carrico said. Were providing hope.
In addition to helping foster families across six counties, Luggage with Love also hosted three clothing drives a shoe drive, a coat drive for the winter and a swimsuit drive for the summer in the last year. The shoe drive brought in more than 600 pairs of new shoes and a $2,000 grant.
Weve had a 15-year-old boy come in who had never had new shoes before, Carrico said. It really puts it all in perspective.
By providing children with items to call their own, their first night at home is made a little easier.
Visit luggagewithlove-ok.org, call 405-613-9518 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Print Headline: Delivering comfort, Oklahoma nonprofit Luggage with Love provides foster children with clothing and comfort as they settle in with their new families.