Teens donate suitcases to foster kids with ‘South Carolina Suitcase Project’

Beaufort County teens donate suitcases to foster kids

BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - Two 15-year-old Beaufort County boys are trying to make a difference in the lives of foster children after being inspired by a movie.

They made their first donation to the Beaufort Department of Social Services on Thursday.

Three cars were filled from one end to the other with suitcases - over 100 bags total.

“I’ve never actually seen all the bags put together because we were storing some at my house and some as his, so seeing them all together was really just incredible, and it was really great seeing how many we had. It was a lot," said Jack Gigante and Jared Reuben.

Jack Gigante and Jared Reuben started collecting the suitcases after watching the movie Instant Family - a movie about foster families.

“In that movie, they said that a lot of foster kids have to carry their belongings in garbage bags, and we thought that was a terrible thing," Reuben said.

The Department of Social Services says this is the case with almost all foster children.

“Sometimes, their belongings are stuffed into a trash bag. Sometimes, they are just piled up and my case managers have to pick them up and bring them in," said Lois Richter, Beaufort Department of Social Services.

Richter says it’s a simple item most people take for granted, and it’s heartbreaking to see children without it.

“It’s always been disturbing to us and that’s why we are just so incredibly touched,” she said.

It’s only been just over a month since the two teens started the South Carolina Suitcase Project.

“So many people have suitcases, gently used suitcases lying in their attic, that is something we could help with,” Reuben said.

They started gathering new and used suitcases to donate to foster children to try to make a difference in their lives.

“I thought it was really just a shame because it’s something people really don’t appreciate about our lives that we have these objects that we really don’t think about, but to other people, it’s really valuable," Gigante said.

Richter says there are 4,500 foster children in the state of South Carolina. She says just in Beaufort County, there are 42 children in foster care.

The boys are starting their project in Beaufort, but hope to give every foster child in the state a suitcase.

“These two young men are incredible. They are 15 years old. When I was 15, I was not thinking about foster children, so I think what they have done is not only a credit to them, but also their families."

The teens are having a donation event next weekend with three drop-off locations. Click here for more information.

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