LIMA — The Allen Lima Leadership Class of 2006 is still active in the community, with members packing Love Luggage bags Wednesday at Allen County Children Services.
The bags will be given to children who are transitioning into the foster care system.
“We’ve spent the last month collecting donations and buying items for approximately 85 Love Luggage bags” said 2006 ALL alumnus Beth Seibert.
Backpacks are age and gender specific and provide children with some personal items as they enter foster or family care.
“It’s about $40 to assemble a bag and that includes the backpack luggage as well. So we are really dependent on community support in the way of donations of new items and also cash donations,” Seibert noted.
The contents of each bag may include soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, comb, coloring books, crayons, reading books, small toys, card games, small blankets and many other essentials. Infant bags also include items such as bottles, diapers and wipes.
“By the end of this year we will have gone through about 1,200 bags and that represents about a $45,000 commitment on the part of our class,” Seibert said.
The Love Luggage Program goes back to 2006.
“When we were in our Allen Lima Leadership Class, looking for a community service project, one of our folks was a Lima police sergeant [Paula Strickler] and another one was the head of Children Services at the time, Scott Ferris. They really compelled us that this is a traumatic time potentially in a child’s life, when they’re ripped from their home and what they know and taken into something unknown and scary and oftentimes they’re taken from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back,” Seibert said. “The Love Luggage project was our effort to help restore some dignities, some self-esteem, some self worth to this process and we’ve been told by foster parents and by case workers there at Children Services that when a child is presented with the Love Luggage the attitude normally just changes dramatically to a much more positive thing.”
In recent years, Allen County Children Services has provided Love Luggage to child welfare agencies in Auglaize, Hardin and Putnam counties.
To make a donation, contact Allen Lima Leadership at 419-222-2711.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.