It has often been illustrated that, through the eyes of a child, the world appears to be an uncomplicated place where the most puzzling situations seem like a distant dream. Such was the case with a talented young visionary named Aubyn Burnside.
In 1995, as a ten-year-old girl, Aubyn founded a wonderful program called Suitcases for Kids after learning that children in foster homes and foster care programs are often called to move on short notice and are forced to transport their personal belongings. in garbage bags.
Now try to imagine that. A boy who is just a lost soul searching for a sense of belonging. A boy who is essentially homeless through no fault of his own and as if to magnify this reality is forced to stuff all of his worldly belongings into a garbage bag!
“I thought it was horrible that the kids didn’t have anything to carry their stuff while they moved so many times. I wanted to make them feel special by giving them something of their own to keep. I tried to put myself in their shoes and think how I would feel,” Aubyn said.
Aubyn spread the word to 4-H clubs and scouting organizations and church and social club meetings and successfully delivered 175 suitcases to the Catawba County Department of Social Services in March 1996. Within a month, deliveries of bags reached eight counties as the program partnered with Families for Kids, which was an initiative of the WK Kellogg Foundation to improve foster care for children.
Suitcase for Kids distributed 4,000 suitcases locally in 1996 and by the end of its first full year was in operation in 19 states and in all fifty by the end of its second year.
Today, Suitcases for Kids is an international nonprofit organization with chapters in every state, as well as many foreign countries.
The Southwest Michigan Realtors Association is proud to announce its second year of involvement in this charitable cause and we look forward to building on last year’s success when we collected eighty new suitcases and duffel bags, two truckloads of personal care items such as clothing new, basic toiletries, diapers, soap, shampoo, as well as over two thousand dollars in cash donations from our generous membership.
This year’s campaign will end on Friday, September 14, 2007 for our members, but the Bags for Kids program will remain active. To donate to our effort on behalf of the program, please contact our MLS office at 1-269-983-6375 or visit us at www.swmar.org or for more information about the program, visit www.suitcasesforkids.org. It is our chosen profession to help families find that special place to call home and it seems like a natural progression to affect this positive change and help these children feel at home, regardless of where they call home.
Please join this cause, it truly is a need that needs to be filled!
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