Published in the 9/20/09 issue of the Suburban Journals/Collinsville Herald
Finding a good cause in unwanted luggage
Community group collects suitcases for foster kids
When people see him coming up the driveway at local garage sales, they usually send George Schneider away packing.
Schneider, president of the Collinsville Noon Lion’s Club, spends his Friday and Saturday mornings at area yard and rummage sales collecting suitcases for foster children.“The real people are the people at the yard sales,” Schneider said. “I have never been turned down or asked for money when I tell residents about our project.”
The club’s project began a year and a half ago to provide suitcases and backpacks for local organizations supporting children displaced from their homes.
Brionne Rhodes, case manager and counselor at child welfare agency Kids Hope United in Collinsville, said that many foster kids travel from one location to the next with their belongings packed in garbage bags.
“The luggage has given us an opportunity to give clients the suitcases so that they see that their stuff is of value,” Rhodes said. “It provides a sense of security for the kids.”
Schneider said the initial goal was to collect enough suitcases to serve only local organizations. But support for the program grew at a rapid rate with local organizations providing donations for the project. The Lions’ Club now supplies suitcases to agencies in Collinsville, Edwardsville, Alton, Belleville and St. Louis. The Collinsville Memorial Library assists with collecting the bags and creates brochures promoting the project.
“To date, we’ve delivered 1,422 pieces of luggage including backpacks,” Schneider said, while packing up the overflow of donations now stored in his garage. “I hope it goes nationwide – it’s an ongoing need.”
Linor Williams, licensing recruiter for Illinois Mentor, an agency that provides assistance to children and families in transition and in need of community services, agreed that the need is there.
“The suitcases have been very significant,” Williams said. Williams and her co-worker Augustine James recently provided several of the suitcases to a group of five siblings entering into foster care. “They had nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Williams said. “Now they all have their own individual suitcases – something that belongs to them.”
Call 344-5994 or drop off luggage at Collinsville Memorial Library Center, 408 W. Main St., Collinsville
– Shannon Philpott
1 thought on “Finding a good cause in unwanted luggage”
This is a very generous, selfless act that George and the Noon Lion’s Club is doing for our most at-risk children. Everyone needs to belong and feel a sense of security, this program helps make that transition a little easier.
Kudos and keep up the good work!