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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Did you know there are about 400 children in Taylor County’s foster care system right now? When they move from one home to another, these kids pack their lives away in a single bag. Sometimes, they even have to resort to using trash bags to hold their clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, school supplies, and keepsakes. An Abilene nonprofit that helps foster children are asking for help in getting local kids suitcases that will last.

Kaycee Robles and Casandra Browne with 2INgage told KTAB/KRBC they’ve seen children enter foster care under a variety of circumstances.

“Specifically talking about Taylor County, I think the drug epidemic is a huge piece of the reasons why our kids come into care. The parents, sometimes, get stuck in that lifestyle,” explained Browne.

Some children have to move out of the Big Country area to find a decent foster family. Browne continued to say these kids, “Move out of the city that they live in to be able to find a place for them to live while their parents are working through services.”

With hope, foster children will be placed in the perfect home until their parents are able to care for them again. However, that’s not always the reality for Taylor County kids in foster care. Robles and Browne said they pack their lives away, on average, twice per year. But they don’t usually have good luggage readily available, so they have to resort to a trash bag to carry their lives with them.

“We believe that our youth deserve that dignity to have something new, because often times they get something hand-me-down,” Robles said.

Browne added a plea, “We have kids who- they dont have a piece of luggage to call their own, or they don’t have other things that they need.”

The State of Texas passed a legislation in September 2023 requiring children in foster care to have a piece of luggage when moving from one home to another. It also requires the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to keep record of each time a child is made to use a trash bag in place of a suitcase.

This would help prevent additional stress, trauma, and other social-emotional impacts on already vulnerable children and would help decrease the stigma around foster care,” the legislation reads.

Texas DFPS and 2INgage can provide children with a piece of luggage, but Browne said there is a need for kids to have a suitcase, “That’s theirs. That isn’t something that is branded with DFPS or 2INgage. It’s their own piece of luggage that they can have and keep forever.”

To help afford local children in foster care with appropriate luggage of their own, 2INgage is hosting a luggage drive in both Abilene and Brownwood.

On Tuesday, February 13, you can donate new suitcases, duffel bags, backpacks, or even full sets to four different Pizza Hut locations:

  • 2750 South 14th Street, Abilene
  • 550 East Ambler Avenue, Abilene
  • 24 Hospital Drive, Abilene
  • 1301 Austin Avenue, Brownwood

This luggage drive benefits children in foster care from Brown County all the way up to Wichita County, which is outside of the Big Country area.