How to help children in foster care without taking a child into your home

Organizations are always looking for suitcases, backpacks, school supplies and other items

ROANOKE, Va. – There are other ways to help children in foster care other than bringing a child into your home. This time of year you can donate presents for the holiday season.

One hundred suitcases donated by the community and going to children in Roanoke. For social service workers, the gift is incredible.

“It means a lot. We all hear about children that are removed from their home or have to be moved to a different home and they’re packing their clothing in plastic bags such as trash bags. It seems like a small thing but it really means a lot to the child,” said Dana Jennings, a Roanoke Department of Social Services senior family services specialist.

“This was about restoring hope and letting them know they matter to everybody in society,” said Sean Burch, Spirit of Unity Baptist Church Pastor who organized the donations after spending 18 years in foster care. “It was totally overwhelming. There were some Saturdays I literally shed tears to see the outpouring of love and support for the community to come together and really stand together for each and every foster child in our area.”

Hundreds of suitcases were donated by the community for local children in foster care. (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

They collected 600 suitcases that are being delivered to multiple foster care organizations that don’t have the budget for items like these.

But it’s more than just a suitcase for these kids.

“The removal from a home is a pretty traumatic experience anyways. To know that you have a suitcase and therefore your belongings aren’t necessarily trash that goes in trash bags that helps,” said Jennings.

Burch is going to do another suitcase collection event in May and is also looking for other ways he can help.

The Roanoke Department of Social Services says they are always looking for organizations to partner with and donations like backpacks, school supplies and hygiene items. Reach out to your local social services department if you’re interested in helping.

If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact DePaul Community Resources at

There are more than 700 children who are ready for foster to adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2020 marks the fourth year 10 News is doing this series.

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.