Harlingen, Texas– Jennifer Conde is the woman behind “Suitcases for kids” — she grew up in the foster care system and knew the importance of having your luggage …
“I was talking about my issues with carrying my belonging in a trash bag, and someone from London told me that trash bags are illegal there, and I thought that’s beautiful.”
Jennifer started the non-profit in April of 2019 after connecting with a support group on social media. She tells us she first went into the foster care system at the age of six and remembers her mother packing her a suitcase with her favorite stuffed animal and personal belongings.
“I would carry my suitcase where I went until it got lost in transition I believe it was one of my foster parents that kept it and sent me with trash bags and from that moment on I carried my things in trash bags”
She is working with “Upbring” — a local foster care agency that shelters or places abused and neglected children in a good home…The founder has been receiving donations from the community to fill suitcases with toys, blankets, and hygiene products. She’s currently working on a bill that makes it illegal to have children carry everything they own in trash bags.
“To make trash bags completely illegal to give a child in care so if the child is taken into foster care if anyone gives them a trash bag they’ll have to pay a hefty fine because it’s not right”
In Hidalgo county alone there are over 600 children in foster care… The casa executive director says children in their care are given a backpack with supplies.
“We have teddy bears. We have clothes here. We have tennis shoes and hygiene supplies. Everything, so the ones we know we have to take care of, we pack a bag.”
‘Suitcase for kids’ has been able to help dozens of children with their transition. You can help with a donation by visiting the Facebook page under the organization’s name in Harlingen.
The organization will continue to work hard to keep trash bags out of children’s stories — with the help of similar agencies and the community.