NVFS Press Release
Thousands of children across the country and hundreds in our own communities enter into foster care each year. In their best interest, these children are uprooted from dangerous, harmful, or neglectful homes to be taken to a place of safety. However, many of them do so without basic necessities and most often without luggage. The easy solution where funds and luggage are lacking has been the common garbage bag. Each subsequent move entails tossing the items back into the bag and moving on. Unfortunately, here in Northern Virginia, that is all too often the reality for foster kids.
“When you are thinking of a child’s safety, whether or not he or she has luggage naturally does not come to mind. This generous gift will help bring a sense of dignity for these children,” stated Mary Agee, President and CEO of NVFS.
In 2004, "Love Luggage," the brainchild of Janeece Henes, CCS, and Natalie Pariano, Residence Life, brought together more than 80 volunteers who hand-painted donated luggage and filled it with necessities such as toiletries, art supplies, books and snacks. The pieces of luggage were given to more than 100 children in foster care with Athens County Children Services, Ohio. Since then, the movement has spread to other states as art teachers, students, churches, and community members have taken up the cause.
Sarah Philip, art educator at The Congressional Schools of Virginia (CSOV) and a native of Ohio, has kept in mind that need. This past spring, she asked her third grade students if they would like to help out foster kids by decorating luggage for them. They willingly agreed and the first set of Love Luggage was created for NVFS.
“At our school, we work to address the needs of our community. The children themselves want to help other children. In this case, they were able to make a very real difference in the lives of others through decorating and providing luggage to foster children,” stated Philip.
Helping children in foster care is accomplished best through partnerships with governments, social agencies, and community members. Those at CSOV have shown that working together can have rich rewards for both those sharing a labor of love and those in need of support and care.
The Congressional Schools of Virginia is located on Sleepy Hollow Road in Falls Church, VA. An independent, coed day school founded in 1939, Congressional enrolls 350 children from pre-school through grade 8. As part of the schools’ mission to educate the whole child, its teaching goes beyond academics to enable students to become productive members of society. Giving back to the community is an important part of the schools’ values. For more information, visit: www.congressionalschools.org.
Northern Virginia Family Service is the largest private, nonprofit human service organization in Northern Virginia. Each year, more than 34,000 individuals and families turn to NVFS to find housing and emergency services, early childhood programs, health & mental health services, workforce development programs, legal assistance, anti-hunger programs, and intervention & prevention programs. NVFS is an innovator of efficient and comprehensive service methods, and has been recognized nationally for its effectiveness in creating sustained financial and social independence for its clients.
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