An outpouring of support

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

Calling off a campaign to assist foster care children would normally be thought a bad thing. This week, that’s exactly what happened, but only for the best of reasons.

Last month, four master’s of social work candidates at East Carolina University were given a class assignment: come up with a community service project and put that project into motion. One of those students already works as a social worker at Beaufort County Department of Social Services and she saw a need that wasn’t being met — suitcases. Specifically, children being removed from a home to enter into the foster system often did not have anything to put their belongings in. They had to resort to trash bags or gift bags. Their most treasured possessions consigned to whatever was on hand to carry them.

The call went out through word of mouth, through an article and an editorial in the Daily News, for new or gently used suitcases, duffle bags or lidded, plastic containers. It was shared on social media, and shared again.

The Luggage for Love campaign was supposed to run until March 30. This week, those graduate students put an end to it because the call was answered. And answered again. They were aiming to provide suitcases to all 89 children that were in Beaufort County’s foster system when the campaign started. In less than a month, they got 250.

A community is only as good as the most vulnerable of its residents. Arguably, children removed from their homes to escape a dangerous living situation — uprooted from all they know — are Beaufort County’s most vulnerable. What the community demonstrated was not only generosity by donating so much and so quickly, but true caring for its children.

Caring for a community happens every day in small ways. This, however, was an example set in a big way.