It is a warm summer day in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In a warehouse, nearly 20 volunteers are assembling suitcase bundles for children and teens in foster care. Gracious friends of Focus on the Family have donated to provide suitcases for over 2,000 children and teens in foster care. Each suitcase bundle includes a Bible with a handwritten note of encouragement and a fluffy teddy bear.
Every day, children and teens are displaced from their homes or transition between homes. Unfortunately, these moves can come without warning, and the child or teen may only have a garbage bag in which to put their belongings. With a suitcase of their own, children and teens can feel their dignity restored.
A Bustling Warehouse with Loving Volunteers
Inside the warehouse, a systematic assembly line has formed. Two volunteers place stickers on the inside cover of every Bible. Each sticker has a handwritten message of encouragement and love for a child or teen in foster care. Once a volunteer places the sticker in the Bible, they put the Bible on the table next to the fluffy teddy bears, where it awaits going into a suitcase.
Volunteers unpack suitcase shipments, cut off tags, and unzip the suitcase. From there, more volunteers place a cute brown teddy bear and a Bible inside the suitcase. Finally, the volunteers zip up the backpack and place it in a large shipping box.
There are two types of suitcase bundles. One includes an Adventures in Odyssey Bible, perhaps for younger children, although teens also love the fun illustration too. The second type contains a Teen Study Bible. Volunteers count, pack, and prepare the suitcase bundles for shipment. Two thousand (2,000!) of these suitcases are headed to Florida, where One More Child, an on-the-ground organization, will help deliver them to children and teens in foster care.
Thousands of Fingerprints and Prayers
For every child or teen that receives a suitcase, hundreds of people have played a part in the purchasing, assembly, and delivery of their suitcase, Bible, and teddy bear. There were donors who gave, volunteers who assembled, truck drivers who drove, on-the-ground churches and organizations that distributed, and so many more.
There are thousands of fingerprints on each child’s suitcase. Even more significant is that hundreds of people have prayed over these suitcases, Bibles, and teddy bears. The many volunteers and donors involved care deeply for vulnerable children, and they have prayed for each child that will receive a suitcase.
This is what it looks like to support foster families and children in foster care. Even if you do not feel called to foster or adopt, you can pray or consider other methods of support. Suitcase bundles are a clear and tangible way to make a difference in the life of a child.
A Suitcase’s Journey: From Colorado to Florida
These 2,000 suitcases arrive in Florida to be distributed to children and teens in foster care. At the Suitcase Extravaganza in Florida, Focus on the Family joins One More Child in supporting foster families. It is a celebratory time. Foster families in four Florida communities (Bradenton/Sarasota, Fort Myers, Pensacola, and Jacksonville) come to be loved on by the local community. Children pick up what might be the first suitcases they have ever owned. Foster families take a suitcase for a future child that they will foster.
The final fingerprints on the suitcase are those of the child or teen who receives it. This suitcase is theirs. The teddy bear inside is cute and soft. It can be a source of comfort for them along a journey that is often lonely and hard. There is also a Bible with a loving note written by someone who cares and prayed for them. The Bible will be a source of God’s light and love.
Until the Suitcase Is Stored Away
If the child or teen must one day pack up their belongings and move again – which might be likely depending on their circumstance and case plan – they will have a high-quality suitcase to take with them. Hopefully, one day soon, these children will find their “forever,” whether through reunification or adoption from foster care. At that time, their suitcase with a thousand loving fingerprints might finally be stored away.
It is possible that the child or teen will never know of the many fingerprints on their suitcase. They might not know how much love was poured into the assembly and delivery of their suitcase. On the other hand, the volunteers who assembled and delivered the suitcases may never know their impact. Thankfully, God knows the difference each person made in the life of a child in foster care.
We trust that God guides each suitcase from a large warehouse in Colorado into the hands of the child He has in mind to receive it. And we trust that the message written inside their Bible is exactly what they need to hear – both on the day they open the Bible and every day that follows.
You Can Provide Suitcases to Children in Foster Care
Suitcases are provided to children and teens in foster care thanks to generous donations from friends of Focus on the Family. If you feel led to provide a suitcase, teddy bear, and Bible to a child in foster care, you can make a monthly or single donation by clicking here.