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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Jacksonville, Florida, USA

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Jacksonville, Florida, USA
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Jacksonville
Posts: 1
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When children have to be removed from their homes by police or social workers, they usually have only a few moments to grab their things before they are taken to a police station, crisis center or another foster home. In addition to feeling scared and rejected, they often have no available option but to pack their few precious belongings in a garbage bag. When I read a story about this practice online, I felt compelled to take action. I checked the validity of the story with a police officer friend of the family. He confirmed that he is issued a roll of large black trash bags to keep in his trunk for such emergency cases. He said, “If I had better bags, I would use them.” That was all I needed to hear. Better Bags for Kids was founded that very day. Its mission is to eliminate garbage bags as emergency luggage for foster and abused children.

Better Bags are excess new or lightly used duffle bags and totes that social workers and child abuse investigators can keep tucked away in the trunks of their cars. When a foster child must be moved to a new home or an abuse investigation demands that a child go stay with someone else, Better Bags of different sizes and styles will be available for them. I know that having a Better Bag instead of a garbage bag doesn’t solve the problems faced by foster and abused children. However, when situations cause them to feel “thrown away,” a garbage bag is the ultimate insult on top of that. Having a decent bag to carry could make a small difference in their sense of self-worth.

The first step in launching Better Bags for Kids was to create a Facebook page. As word spread among my relatives, neighbors and friends, the page “likes” increased. Soon, I started receiving messages to pick up 5 bags down the street, 9 bags from Grandma’s tennis friends, 15 bags at my mom’s hairdresser, 22 bags at my old taekwondo studio, etc. People are happy to help!

Second, I wrote to some local companies and event coordinators to ask if they had any extra duffle bags or totes left over from recent events. This has resulted not only in some great bags, but also in two on-going corporate relationships (so far). Over the summer and fall of 2013, I collected over 1000 Better Bags.

Most recently, I was honored to be elected President of my school’s Junior Civitan service club. My goal is to coordinate a school-wide collection drive for Better Bags. If even a quarter of our 2,300 students brought in just one bag, it would be well over 500. What makes Better Bags such a great project for students is that we are not asking for money or for people to come to an event. We are simply asking people to clean out some closet space and re-purpose an item they already have at home but aren’t using. Plus it eliminates the plastic bag in the landfill. It’s a win-win situation!

The need for Better Bags does not run out, but our supply does. Therefore, I intend to continue with this project in the future. I have written proposals and interacted with corporate contacts. I am developing marketing skills and learning the importance of acknowledging supporters. These skills will serve me well in whatever career I pursue. I am never present at the scene to see a child receiving a Better Bag, but I can picture it in my mind and in my heart. This project has helped further develop my empathy and compassion for others. I am very proud to have founded Better Bags and promoted it in my community.
Date: December 24, 2013 Views: 4718 File size: 14.9kb, 3010.8kb : 3648 x 2736
Hours Volunteered: 50
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
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