WORCESTER, Mass. – Nov. 2, 2009 – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has partnered with Suitcases4Kids, an organization that helps foster children across Massachusetts, to serve as a collection site for gently used suitcases on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. The collection will take place in WPI's Campus Center on the lower-level Food Court stage from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Individuals may contribute new or slightly used suitcases, duffel bags, or backpacks.
North Andover, Mass.-based Suitcases4Kids' mission is to meet the needs of children moving into or out of state care, any type of shelter, or homeless environment and provide them with a suitcase for their belongings so that they gain a sense of dignity. The average child in foster care has to move three to four times and carries everything they own in garbage bags each time they move. In Massachusetts, there are 12,197 children under age 23 in foster care and 56 percent experience three or more foster care placements, while 20 percent live in group care or institutional settings. Nationwide as of fiscal 2006, there were more than 510,000 children in foster care.
Ronald Nickerson, founder of Suitcases4Kids, explained that the goal of the Suitcases4Kids program is for the campaign to flow statewide, one region at a time. "Our success depends on the donations from the community. It is our mission, in cooperation with the students of WPI and the community of Worcester, to collect 1,200 suitcases so that our overall goal of 14,000 can be reached by June 10, 2010. To date, we have collected more than 7,000 suitcases for the children in Massachusetts."
"The work of Ron and his team of volunteers is impressive," said Emily Perlow, WPI's associate director of student activities. "With the help of the Worcester community, I am confident that we can accomplish our goal of collecting 1,200 suitcases."
Nickerson, who is a foster dad with three sons, said, "After 25 years of working with children, I have seen enough kids with trash bags. It's time to give them some dignity."