ROCKINGHAM — One community organization wants to help make the transition between homes for Richmond County’s foster children a little easier.
On Tuesday, members of Soul Stand Up, a branch of Sisters of Unity and Love, donated nearly a dozen suitcases and gym bags to the Richmond County Department of Social Services.
Tonee Grant, president of the group, said one of the sisters is a foster parent and “saw a great need in the community for the foster children to have suitcases.”
Grant said it helps give them away to pack their clothes neatly and, hopefully, not feel like they’re being displaced when going into foster care or being relocated with another family or back with their own.
Another group member, Paullett Wall, is a former homeless liaison for Richmond County Schools.
“I saw many instances where children had trash bags as they were transitioning from place to place,” Wall said. “So, the use of a suitcase, it may be small in some people’s eyes, but to a child … it makes a big difference to have some type of normalcy.”
“We are so happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this cause,” said Debra Johnson, financial director. “We know there is a need, and we’re here to help whenever we can.”
“We appreciate you guys for thinking of our foster kids,” Lakwanza Brown, Foster Care supervisor, told the group’s members. “There’s a great need for it.”
Brown said the county currently has 67 children in custody, many from abuse cases.
According to a letter to the editor submitted by Brown on April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, there were nearly 200 cases investigated by Child Protective Services in the first three months of this year.
“Abuse, maltreatment, neglect — it happens,” Brown said.
Brown also said that there have been double the number of children in foster care the past two years, with the average being around 30. The total has topped around 72.
“It seems like we’re getting kids weekly,” Brown said. “So there’s a great need for bags. We do have them come here with trash bags…grocery bags, so the suitcases are needed.”
Debra Johnson, the group’s financial director, said the drive is ongoing and anyone interested in participating is encouraged to call 336-448-3938.
“We are so happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this cause,” said Johnson. “We know there is a need, and we’re here to help whenever we can.”
Last July, Soul Stand Up hosted a unity march downtown to bring the community together in the wake of nationwide racial tensions.
“We want to continue to be active in the community by doing things when we see there’s a need,” Grant said.