Southern’s Social Work Club donated 403 duffle bags to the Hamilton County Department of Children’s Services (DCS) on March 12. The club raised over $2,000 from September to early March through bake sales and donations to purchase the duffle bags. According to Social Work Club Social Vice President Callie Dickson, who heads the project, this is the first time the club has participated in a duffle bag fundraiser to this capacity.
“This year, the Social Work Club’s motto was Creating Community Through Kindness,” Dickson said. “DCS conducted a duffle bag drive in September 2019. One of my cohort members showed me the flyer they put out. Immediately, the club knew that we had to participate. One of my personal passions is the foster care system, so our club president Claire Ashcraft let me head this project.”
According to Dickson in a WRCB Channel 3 interview, children in the foster care system are usually given trash bags for their belongings when they are taken from their homes.
“I really think that this will be like a little light at the end of the tunnel,” Dickson said in the interview. “…When you’re being taken away from your family, that’s already a very traumatic event. Plus, being handed a trash bag, that kind of gives you the sense that your stuff doesn’t really mean anything. So, hopefully giving them these duffle bags [will] give them a sense of belonging and hope and a little bit of something sturdy in their life that they know will stay around.”
According to School of Social Work Office Manager Cheryl Craven, the Social Work Club originally did not expect to raise over $2,000.
“What makes the story powerful is that the club officers had set a goal of $1,000,” said Craven. “They set it kind of high; you don’t make a whole lot on bake sales. But, as they communicated with others, people started giving donations”
According to Craven, the club officers approached multiple churches for their fundraising. A visitor at the Connect service at Collegedale Academy heard about the drive and donated $1,000. Other church members gave $389. People also gave last-minute donations to help push the bag count to over 400. Each bag cost $4.99.
“I’m so excited to see how God has brought encouragement to the club officers through all their efforts. Also, it’s going to encourage these children…and bring a little ray of sunshine and something that they can call their own.”
“Each year, the Social Work Club picks projects that they want to be involved in,” Dickson said. “I can’t say at this time if we will be choosing the duffle bag drive as our big project for the year, but I know we will continue to be involved with the community to try to meet needs that have gone unmet.”