BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The founder of Fostering Greatness Inc. came up with the initiative to collect luggage items for foster care youths in Buffalo.
Leah Angel Daniel, a founder of the nonprofit, says donating a suitcase can have a second life and help foster children in the process.
"A lot of the time they have garbage bags or boxes as a replacement so we wanted to do something about that by providing new luggage and duffle bags with toiletries and any other things that they need," Daniel says.
Daniel's organization fosters youth, adults, and alumni of color. She understands what foster youth may go through because she has once been in their shoes.
"We just didn't have them. We felt embarrassed. We felt who should we asked for these different things, so we just wanted others not to feel like that," she says. "We want to have the essentials that they need when they are experiencing displacement."
A former foster child, 28-year-old Suheiri Rodriguez, tells 7 News she can relate to being in a position to move constantly from home to home.
"I went through five different foster homes and a group home, and in between traveling each one there's so much that you can take and sometimes I didn't have luggage," Rodriguez says. "Basically whatever fit in my hands. Whatever fit in my pockets is what I can take and sometimes it was very minimum."
The now entrepreneur of NY Candle Cafe says if one can donate a luggage, he or she can help with being part of a success story like hers.
"Although I had many issues growing up and I experience things as a trouble child with success stories I have people have donated, helped me and gave me simple things like a luggage it has given me the power for me to know it's more than what I've been through," Rodruqiuez says. "It's more than what I can do with myself so I'm definitely a success story that shows if you help out we can be more than what you want us to be."
Daniel says many in foster care tend to be removed from their home and may not have the proper way to carry their belongings.
She looks forward to changing the narrative by holding a "Luggage of Love Drive" at the William Emslie YMCA during March.
"This particular location was chosen because it entitles families. I have been coming to this YMCA for many years and I appreciate the support and guidance and well initiative for people of color," she says.
The Luggage of Love Drive occurs all through March of 2022 at the William Emslie YMCA located at 585 William St, Buffalo, NY 14206.