Help give foster kids back their dignity with the suitcases you no longer need

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by Sarina Fazan | Nov 20, 2014

Patty Wyman, the owner of Day Spa 580 in Dunedin, was on her Facebook page when she came saw a plea for suitcases posted by friend Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel.
“Our nothing could be a child’s everything,” Wyman said.
Wyman sprang to action.
"I just started asking, ‘Do you have bags or luggage you are not using anymore?’ and they just started dropping them off by the day spa," Wyman said.
Levent wanted to get luggage for foster kids who typically arrive at homes like Friends of Joshua House, a home for abused, abandoned and neglected children, with all their belongings in a garbage bag.
Levent, a longtime supporter of the home, asked its executive director, DeDe Grundel, if the children could help name the charity.
They came up with “It's My Bag.”
Talking about the effort moved Levent to tears so much so it was hard for her to speak about her mission.
"We have so much. It's time to share. It's time to give," Levent said.
She started using her contacts through her own agency and soon people from as far as Australia wanted to help.
She's already collected dozens of suitcases. Business owners like Wyman are taking it one step further, sponsoring the program and then personally delivering the suitcases and filling them with everything from socks to blankets.
Grundel said it's changing kids’ lives.
"It's the point you carry yourself with dignity, and that someone thought of you as a human being, that they did not think your stuff is garbage," Grundel said. "Tammy Levent hit this on the nose. It's what these kids need.
Grundel  hopes Tammy's idea will spread  and all foster children no matter where they go, either this facility or another, will get back a piece of pride.
The residents of Friends of Joshua House are provided luggage, but so many come in at the last minute, like at so many other foster care facilities, with their belongings in garbage bags.
Levent also said if you drop off a bag, there's an added incentive: Each drop off location will give you a reward, such as a gift certificate.
To find out more information you can  just head to .

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