Trash bags to suitcases: Organization donates to Kentucky foster families

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 2:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 7:08 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A focus is being put on family during a time when thousands of children are in foster care, because some may never know what it’s like to have a permanent home.

Bashford Manor Baptist Church and Calvary Christian Center paired up with a national organization called Focus on the Family to give children who may have to move from home to home until they are 18 a feeling of security.

On the way to a new adventure, sleepover, or trip, some people are accustomed to hearing the roll of a suitcase, but some children have never heard a zip before —only the rumbling of a garbage bag signaling a new move and a step further away from home.

That was true for Natalie Whitcomb’s three foster children, she told WAVE 3 News.

“We’ve had children come to our home with just a plastic bag, literally,” Whitcomb said. “All they had was that plastic bag and there was a sippy cup in there and one sandal.”

Whitcomb is one of the many foster parents helping to take care of nearly 10,000 foster children in Kentucky.

On Thursday, she rolled out of the parking lot of Bashford Manor Baptist Church with a suitcase from Sharen Ford. Ford is the director of foster care and adoption with the organization Focus on the Family, based in Colorado.

Ford said she has spent 30 years working in child welfare. On Thursday, she heard numerous stories from foster parents about children moving their comfort items in garbage bags.

“(Parents) had tears in her eyes,’ Ford said. “Of course, it made me want to tear up too because I know our kids aren’t trash. … We want to give them dignity. We want to support them and walk beside them with grace.”

With Focus on the Family, she’s providing 300 new suitcases to foster families in Kentucky, including Stacy Vandeventer, who said her 16-year-old foster daughter has been through the revolving door.

“I asked her about coming to our house for Christmas,” Vandeventer said. “I asked if she had a suitcase, and she didn’t answer me, and she didn’t answer me, (and) she goes, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ... She has a hard time trusting people. Adults always come and go, so having a suitcase to establish coming and going until it becomes permanent will give her the foundation that we’re not leaving.”

Ford said there are 400,000 children in the foster system across the country, and 105,000 are eligible for adoption.

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