A backpack with the name tag that will also go on each bag for the recipients.

Hillsborough County Children’s Services launched its Duffels of Dignity program on October 10. The program will collect donations of new or gently used duffel bags, suitcases and personal care items for children in foster care or who are escaping domestic violence and homelessness.

Hillsborough County Children’s Services assists many local children who are in traumatic situations, facing homelessness or in need of emergency shelter. Often, these children do not have proper luggage to store their belongings and instead use garbage bags to carry their few personal items. Foster care youth in Hillsborough County face similar needs. To help these children and offer them a bit of courage and dignity, Children’s Services has launched its Duffels of Dignity program and is now accepting donations.

Donations accepted include: 

• New or gently used duffel bags (24-28 inches), suitcases (wheelie bags, suitcases with handles) and backpacks are all accepted.
• Personal care items.
• Toothbrushes and toothpaste.
• Combs and brushes.
• Shampoo and conditioner.
• Deodorant.
• All personal care items should be new and in their original packaging.  

Duffels of Dignity also has an Amazon Wish List, which is linked at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/social-services/children/duffels-of-dignity. Items ordered from the wish list will be mailed directly to the Children’s Services campus.

“The idea was to create a program that Hillsborough County Children’s Services would do a year-round collection of new and gently used luggage, duffel bags and personal care items and provide them to at-risk youth and children in foster care. These kids have gone through so much, and the trauma they have experienced is severe. It’s important that they get something of their very own and know they are loved. Arriving at a new home with their own duffel bag or suitcase helps provide them with a little sense of dignity during one of the most difficult times in their young lives”, said Craig Jewesak, administrative services coordinator with Hillsborough County Children’s Services.

Each bag will have a special label with their name on it as well.

Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Hillsborough County Children’s Services Administrative Office, located at 3191 Clay Mangum Ln. in Tampa. There will be signs directing people to the ‘Duffels of Dignity Drop-off Location.’

Children’s Services has also partnered with local nonprofits Mary & Martha House and The Spring of Tampa Bay, which help women and their children escape domestic violence, by providing luggage to residents in their programs.

For more information on Hillsborough County Children’s Services’ Duffels of Dignity program, visit www.hcflgov.net/duffelsofdignity.

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