How donated luggage is helping out foster children in L.A. County

CANOGA PARK (KABC) -- When you think of a suitcase, you think of a vacation, right? For foster children who sometimes go from one home to another and then another, this piece of luggage has a very different meaning.

Normally, the children are given a trash bag to put their belongings in. But inside this San Fernando Valley luggage store, Los Angeles County foster children are given something they can call their own to store their personal belongings.

"It helps a child to feel like a child, like they belong, or have some belongings. So no matter where they move, these are things that are mine," said Theresa Reed who works in foster care education at Pasadena City College. She herself was once in the foster care system.

The luggage program started a few years ago. Mark Stern and his family have owned H. Savinar Luggage, their Canoga Park luggage business, for more than 30 years when he was approached by L.A. County to help.

"They actually thanked me for cleaning out their closets. They brought their suitcases in perfect shape. They might have a little mark in them but they still had the wheels, which was important. And we just kept gathering suitcase after suitcase and it worked out to be a really good program in the last 7-8 years," said Stern.

"I thought it was really important for them to have an actual suitcase and luggage so that their life would have not equated to a trash bag. So they would have someplace to keep their belongings and have some dignity," said Erica Chait, the social worker and family friend who asked Mark if he'd like to help out.

So if you've got an old suitcase lying around, donations are always welcome.
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