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‘I was abandoned at the age of 3’: Local pastor holds suitcase drive for foster care children

He says it's common for children in foster care to live out of a trash bag

Pastors collecting suitcases for foster kids
Pastors collecting suitcases for foster kids

ROANOKE, Va. – There are many ways to provide hope to children, but one pastor said it can come in a popular shape.

Sean Burch is hosting the Suitcases with Hope Drive to give children in foster care more than just something to carry clothes in.

Burch, the pastor of Spirit of Unity Baptist Church in Roanoke, feels right at home behind a pulpit preaching the word, but the pastor, husband and father spent much of his younger years moving house to house as a foster child.

“I was abandoned at the age of 3 years old. I don’t know the whole situation of how my brothers and I ended outside on the hotel balcony,” recalled Burch.

What he is certain of is that it has been a long road through the foster care system to leading a congregation.

“One of the first things I could say that I owned was a suitcase,” said Burch.

Burch recalled the simple, yet meaningful, gesture someone once did for him by giving him a suitcase.

He said it is common for children in foster care to live out of a trash bag.

“To walk around with a trash bag, some people say that makes me feel like I’m trash,” said Burch.

Now, Burch is hosting the drive for kids just like him.

“It would give that child some hope. For me, it gave me hope and sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of hope, it was just that one small gesture, that meaningful gift that made a difference for me to say, ‘you know, the world is not all that bad and I’m not all that broken as other people or the statistics may suggest that I am,‘” he said.

Burch is setting up a drive thru drop off, hoping to collect 600 suitcase donations.

“Somebody wanted me to succeed and they went out their way to ensure it, so who am I to not pick up the torch and be able to help out the next foster child,” said Burch.

Burch asks those who want to donate to fill the bag with toiletries and a note of encouragement.

The drive is Saturday, September 5, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Spirit of Unity Baptist Church at 193 Updike Lane.

About the Author:

After working and going to school in Central Virginia for over five years, Lindsey’s made her way back home to the mountains.