Former Foster Child Pays it Forward with Luggage Project
To Mike, the founder of Mikey's Luggage, every child deserves dignity, regardless of her or his situation. As someone who grew up in foster care, Mike said he always struggled with moving from home to home with his belongings indeed, his entire life's possessions clumsily stuffed into a couple of trash bags.
"When other schoolmates see that there's a car with a county official stamp on it and back seat full of trash bags or boxes full of stuff, your peers know what's going on, and they figure out real quick that you're a foster child," Mike said.
That was one of the most difficult experiences for Mike as a foster child. When he finally landed with the foster family that eventually adopted him, he promised to help other foster kids survive the transitional period. In 2013, he made good on his promise and started Mikey's Luggage, which helps to replace the garbage bags with brand new luggage that foster children can call their own. Garbage bags are meant for garbage, not for one's most-prized possessions.
"If I could grant one wish for foster kids today, it would probably be to give them some dignity, and I think the first place we can start is through luggage," Mike said. "I think the dignity comes from the normalcy of suitcases, something that is traditionally used by everybody else."
Mikey's Luggage works with Koinonia Family Services, who helps foster children in California and Nevada, to ensure that every suitcase donated goes directly to a foster child. Les Schwab Tire Centers is proud to support Mike's cause by designating its Sacramento-area locations as drop-off centers for area donations.
Mike knows the little things can make a big difference for children living in foster care, and the way they collect and move their material lives matters.
"That's kind of my rock, you can't touch it," he said, reflecting on the importance of his own bag as a child. "It's the one thing you can't take from me. That's why I started Mikey's Luggage."
To contribute a new suitcase or duffle bag to a foster child, simply swing by one of the Sacramento-area Les Schwab stores and let the on-duty manager know it's for Mikey's Luggage.