A Labor of Love

Oakton, VA, December 23, 2009—Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) announced the donation of ten suitcases for children in its foster care program. This had been the third year students at The Congressional Schools of Virginia (CSOV) has provided suitcases to children in need. This donation will help achieve NVFS’ goal of meeting more than just basic needs for foster children, by providing them a piece of luggage they can call their own.

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.

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 CSOV and a native of Ohio, has kept in mind that need. For three years now Ms. Phillips has offered students at CSOV the opportunity to help out foster kids by decorating luggage for them.

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.