Local foster kids go from trash bags to backpacks

Parker woman among those inspired by Comfort Cases

Julie A. Taylor
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/28/17

Decades ago, Comfort Cases founder Rob Scheer went through the foster system. As he traveled from house to house, the system had him store his personal belongings in a trash bag. When he became a …

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Local foster kids go from trash bags to backpacks

Parker woman among those inspired by Comfort Cases

Posted

Decades ago, Comfort Cases founder Rob Scheer went through the foster system. As he traveled from house to house, the system had him store his personal belongings in a trash bag.

When he became a foster parent decades later, the children arrived with trash bags, and he decided to make a change. His desire to help is rippling through the area.

Comfort Cases started as an idea in 2003 in Maryland. When the organization started to get national coverage on “The Today Show” and the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” people across the area volunteered to set up local chapters. On average, 1,000 children are in foster care in Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson Counties, according to Arapahoe County statistics.

Ashleigh Letofsky, a Parker resident who works as a paralegal in the Cherry Creek area, decided to get involved. She is working to provide 50 local foster children with backpacks filled with hygiene and and comfort items.

“I was so inspired by what they were doing. I wanted to get involved,” Letofsky said. “I’ve always had a passion for working with children and helping out with causes like that.”

In years past, she volunteered with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Recently, she spread the word on Facebook groups and the Nextdoor app, calling for donations, plus a number of businesses joined the effort. She has personally coordinated and picked up all the items, fitting it into her daily commute.

“So many people in the Parker area are so close to me anyway,” Letofsky said. “They’re willing give, so I’m willing to pick them up.”

Everything Letofsky gathers will go to foster children in Douglas, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Her goal is to get donations for 50 kids by Dec. 6, and she is already halfway there.

“I was just really overwhelmed with how caring the Parker, Douglas County and Aurora community have been,” Letofsky said. “Every time I pick up items, it’s always more than I expect.”

After she collects all of the items, a group of volunteers will meet for a packing party. So many signed up, that the space cannot hold any more helpers.

She is still accepting donations for the first push, but anything that arrives after the Dec. 6 packing party will be accepted and given to children entering the foster system in the future.

“For kids entering system that night, that way social worker can grab the bag,” Letofsky said.

Mother-daughter duo Terri and Emily Stevens brought Comfort Cases to Virginia a few years ago, and recently went on “The Today Show” with Scheer.

“That’s what we need is that grassroots effort,” Terri said. “It renews your faith in people, especially the world we live in right now.”

She said they are working to build formal chapters across the nation, but from Maryland, they have shipped to 33 states.

Aside from Letofsky’s packing party, businesses in Denver’s south metro area are holding their own drives and delivering the finished bags to Letofsky. Volunteers will tag the backpacks with pajama size and gender, and the lot will be distributed to area foster children via Arapahoe County, which also works with Douglas and Jefferson County foster children.

“It’s something I just had a passion for and wanted to help any way I could,” Letofsky said.

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