A local woman is making a difference in the lives of foster children, one suitcase at a time.

“Our children are not trash or garbage,” said Carol Washington, a foster parent.

Carol Washington has been a therapeutic foster mom for nine years. Over the years, dozens of boys and girls have stayed with her. Only one of them had their personal belongings in a suitcase.

“The children who come into my home they usually come into my home with their personal belongings in trash bags,” said Washington, “and I have a problem with that.”

Carol began talking with friends and family about the issue. Conversations led her to begin a luggage drive, Luggage for Love. She enlisted the help of her son-in-law, the director of a local child mental health agency.

“We’ve seen these ourselves so when she brought this to us we thought it was an amazing idea,” said Garrett Taylor, CEO of The Power of U Inc., “and so we decided to be the collection site for the bags.”

Community members collected nearly 50 gently used and new luggage to give foster kids in the area.

“It will give them a little bit more self-esteem other than carrying their stuff as if they’re unimportant,” said Washington.

Today, Washington and Taylor delivered the luggage to the Pitt County Department of Social Services and the Methodist Home for Children in Greenville. Both thrilled with the generous donation.

“It will be fun it’s a brand new item that they can claim as theirs,” said Rhonda Dawson, with Pitt County Department of Social Services.

“It’s something they haven’t had to share with anybody,” said Jan Elliott, with Pitt County Department of Social Services.

“It’s something tangible they can feel,” said Talecia McCarter, foster care specialist with Methodist Home for Children in Greenville, ”like someone thought about me when they gave me this item, so it’s going to be something they can look back on and say yeah somebody cared about me.”

 Washington plans to continue collecting luggage into the future.

“We love all of our kids regardless of whatever their circumstances are,” said Washington.

If you would like to donate to Luggage of Love contact Carol Washington at cdawash@yahoo.com or call 252-814-1061.