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Youth Experiences: Moving Personal Belongings in Garbage Bags

Below, are the stories from several Bergen County Foster Youth about their experiences of moving their personal belongings in garbage bags.  These youth, like many others, feel it is important for youth to be given luggage so they can have a little dignity and pride when they change placements. 

I remember moving from a shelter in Camden County to a group home in Bergen County with all my stuff – my clothes, my belongings – in garbage bags. That’s a three hour trip to a whole new environment. That’s embarrassing. After the third time I moved in garbage bags, my mentor finally bought me a set of luggage. But why was it up to someone who wasn’t even in the agency to buy me something the agency should have? It’s not fair.

Move after move after move after move. This is an ongoing issue for young people such as myself. As a foster child I’ve moved all my life, and most of these moves I left the way that nobody should move. I moved with garbage bags. I felt so bad moving out with twelve different garbage bags. After awhile I had to ask my Auntie for luggage, and I only had one bag. I just wish that I was provided with the supplies I need to make me feel good.

I didn’t have to use garbage bags because my mother supplied me with the supplies that I needed. But I know and have seen people with bags. It looks tacky and they look unhappy. It’s harder to keep up with your clothes, your personal items and your important information when it’s in garbage bags.

Having luggage is a very important thing to me and kids like me. If we’re not moving out on the right foot, how do you think it makes us feel moving out with garbage bags? I think having luggage will really boost up they’re confidence. This is a really important issue because if children move out with garbage bags, they’ll probably feel like garbage. This can really help us in the long run. Being in a home is already not easy, the garbage bags just makes it harder.

As a former Foster Care child I’ve moved at least 16 to 18 times. It seems overtime I moved it got more difficult. For me, the most difficult transition was knowing that the way I came in, was the same way I was leaving – with all my belongings in garbage bags. Let me tell you, it felt like I was the garbage being thrown out, and nobody even cared. It wasn’t until I moved to a group home that I got my first luggage from one of my friends. Until this day, I still have it. I like to call it the Luggage of Friendship.

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