Show You Care: Iowa BIG students hold luggage drive for children in foster care

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 4:57 AM CDT

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa BIG high schoolers Grace Hobson and Tiffany Rule are part of a team helping fix a problem that a few months ago, they didn’t know existed.

They’re partnering with Four Oaks to hold a luggage drive. Everything they pack up will go to children in the foster care system, giving them something personal they can carry anywhere they go.

Hobson said they first learned about the issue from staff at Four Oaks.

“A lot of foster kids bring around their belongings in trash bags, and they get moved around super quick, so they just pack all their stuff up in a trash bag. We kind of wanted to find a way to get foster kids something on their own that they would have with them through all of the houses they go to,” Hobson said.

The drive launched on March 29 and runs until April 29, and the bags are already piling up. They’re collecting items like suitcases, duffle bags, and backpacks.

After the drive is over, Hobson and Rule plan to get the luggage out with a pop-up shop. They said it’s critical to give the young people in the foster care system the chance to pick out something they love, and can call their own.

“We want them to know that it’s there it’s like theirs, and they own it,” Rule said, “But I’m just really excited to see how excited they get.”

Hobson and Rule said this is a passion project for them.

“It’s not easy, it does take a lot of work,” Hobson said. “So it’ll feel good when it all pays off, and we’re also helping a part of the community that is not always cared for as much as they should be.”

Beyond the luggage, Hobson and Rule said they’re hoping to raise awareness about the foster care system, helping people learn like they did.

“We just hope that we can show them we care about you, we support you, so this is something of your own to remind you that you’re not alone that you are loved as an individual. I think that’s really important to us,” Rule said.

Donation bins are set up at several local businesses in Eastern Iowa, including Next Page Books and Rawlicious, several McGrath Auto dealerships in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha, and Dan and Debbie’s Creamery in Ely.

Larger donations can also be dropped off at the Iowa BIG office in Cedar Rapids.

More details on the project and how to donate can be found here.

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