It has often been illustrated that through the eyes of a child the world appears to be an uncomplicated place where the most perplexing situations seem but a daydream away. Such was the case for a talented and young visionary named Aubyn Burnside.
In 1995, as a ten year old girl, Aubyn founded a wonderful program called Suitcases for Kids after she had learned that children in foster homes and foster care programs are often called upon to relocate with very little notice and are forced to transport their personal belongings in trash bags.
Now try to imagine that. A child who is just a lost soul searching for a sense of belonging. A child who is essentially homeless due to no fault of their own and as if to magnify this reality is forced to stuff all of their worldly belongings into a garbage bag!
“ I thought it was horrible that the children had nothing to carry their things in as they moved so many times. I wanted to make them feel special by giving them something of their own to keep. I tried to put myself in their place and think how I would feel”, said Aubyn.
Aubyn put the word out to 4-H clubs and Scout group organizations and church and social club gatherings and successfully delivered 175 suitcases to Catawba County Department of Social Services in March of 1996.
Within a month, suitcase deliveries had found their way to eight surrounding counties as the program partnered with Families for Kids which was an initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to improve foster care for children.
Suitcase for Kids distributed 4,000 suitcases locally in 1996 and by the end of its first full year was in operation in 19 states and in all fifty by the end of its second year.
Currently, Suitcases for Kids is an international non-profit organization with chapters in every state as well as many foreign countries.
The Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors is proud to announce our second year of involvement in this most benevolent cause and we hope to build on last years success when we collected eighty new suitcases and duffel bags, two truckloads of personal care items such as new clothes, basic toiletries , diapers, soap, shampoo as well as over two thousand dollars in cash donations from our generous membership.
This years drive will end on Friday September the 14, 2007 for our members but the Suitcases for Kids program will remain ongoing. To donate to our effort on behalf of the program please contact our MLS office at 1-269-983-6375 or visit us at http://www.swmar.org/ or to find out more information on the program please visit http://www.suitcasesforkids.org/.
It is our chosen profession to help families to find that special place to call home and it seems a natural progression to affect this positive change and to help these children feel at home, regardless of where they call home.
Please rally around this cause, it is truly a need to be filled!