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Volunteers fill backpacks with school supplies for children in foster care

Volunteers fill backpacks with school supplies for children in foster care

ROCKVILLE, Md. — It’s Christmas in July for kids in the foster care system. Dozens of volunteers are coming together to stuff 2,500 backpacks full of school supplies for foster children.

The goal is to make the start of school a little bit easier, with the help of Comfort Cases.

On any given day, there are approximately 437,500 children in foster care in the United States.

Most of them are removed from their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. If they do have any personal belongings, they are given a trash bag in which to carry them.


Rob Scheer grew up in the foster care system, and when he turned 18, he became homeless. Both times, he was handed a trash bag with all his belongings.


“The trash bag decided it was going to define who I was — that I was less, that I didn’t matter,” he said. “Then [my husband and I] decided that it was time for us to be parents. And of course, what did we do, we adopted kids out of foster care. But I was absolutely shocked just that they came to our home after all of these years, carrying a trash bag… It just wasn’t going to happen on my watch. And I promised my kids that we were going to make change.”

He started Comfort Cases to make that change and bring dignity and hope to youth in foster care.

“I never wanted to forget where I came from. I never wanted to forget how I felt that day that that trash bag was handed to me. And I said, ‘I want to eliminate trash bags in D.C. foster care,'” Scheer said.

He and his husband Reese are the proud fathers of six children from the foster care system.

Actress Jen Lilley, known for starring in multiple Hallmark Christmas movies, is also a foster and adoptive parent — and wanted to give back to kids like hers.

She started Christmas is Not Cancelled in 2020 originally to raise money for Toys for Tots. Since then, she’s partnered with Comfort Cases to stuff backpacks full of school supplies for kids in the foster care system.

It’s part of their Christmas in July initiative.

“Maybe these are just school supplies for you, if you didn’t go through foster care, but for these children, it’s a sign of dignity,” Lilley said. “And it’s a sign that maybe you’re not in the place that you want to be. And maybe your life hasn’t been so easy. But you know that there is a whole army of people behind you that believe that your current situation is not your future.”

The army of volunteers who showed up Friday morning are working to change the stats that say only 50% of kids in the foster care system will finish high school and less than 10% will earn a college degree, according to the National Youth Foster Institute.

“You see the difference you can make in someone else’s life. It’s important to give back to those who need it,” volunteer Keri Thorn said.

The cases include essential and comfort items like pajamas, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of soap. The backpacks being filled on Friday are filled with binders, notebooks, journals, pens, pencils, calculators and other supplies for public school students who wouldn’t have access to these tools.

“You do not have to know someone to love someone. And it is our responsibility as humans to love each other,” Scheer said.

Comfort Cases is a 96% volunteer-run organization. It has delivered more than 200,000 cases since its inception in 2013. For every $10 donated, a trash bag is taken out of a foster child’s life.

For more information on how to donate to Comfort Cases, click here, and to Christmas is Not Cancelled, click here.

Learn more here.

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