Last winter, Libby Sanders, age 12, of Oley Township, toured a building that provides services to both foster children and their families in a home like environment.
She struggled with the fact that many kids enter foster care with only the clothes on their backs. Furthermore, she couldn’t believe that kids could transition from one foster home to another with little or no belongings.
Being a former foster child herself, she wanted to do something to change that. She wanted every child in foster care to have their own pillow on which to lay their head at night.
This summer, she did just that. Using a Girl Scout Silver Project as a template, she and her parents, Mark and Karla Sanders, approached their church with the idea. Every year, Fleetwood Bible Church picks a non-profit as a mission focus during their week of Vacation Bible School. This year’s focus was on a non-profit called Little Brown Suitcase Ministries which is led by Amy Gambler, who was also a foster child at one time, and is a member of Fleetwood Bible Church.
Little Brown Suitcase Ministries’ motto is “Unpacking God’s Love one foster child at a time.” This ministry offers grants to foster children, grants to adoptive parents, as well as duffle bags to children in need of a place to store their belongings. Libby’s idea fit perfectly into Little Brown Suitcases’ passion.
During mission time at Fleetwood Bible Church, Amy and Libby talked to the kids about the Bible story of Moses who was adopted as a baby and went on to do great things for God and His kingdom. The kids also heard about some of the hardships that foster children face in today’s world.
Throughout the week, kids were able to bring new pillows to Vacation Bible School in support of this project. The kids responded so generously that some local stores had no standard sized pillows left on their shelves. One Bible School teacher even agreed to take a pie in the face if the kids could bring in 300 pillows throughout the week. The kids met that challenge with a few pillows to spare.
Upon final tally, a total of 400 pillows were counted plus more than 85 pillowcases (some handmade) and enough money to purchase the remaining pillowcases needed to cover the pillows. All pillow cases will be monogrammed with encouraging phrases such as “Love Poured Down” and “You are Loved” before being distributed to Berks County foster children.
More information regarding Little Brown Suitcase Ministries can be found at www.LittleBrownSuitcaseMinistries.org. You can also see pictures of the VBS Pillow project by viewing their Facebook page.