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Suitcase project benefits foster kids

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Mabton Jr./Sr. High School students recently completed "Project Love Luggage," a project which benefits children in foster care. The Mabton students, under the direction of Betsy Desmarais, decorated old suitcases for use by foster children. The suitcases were donated to the state Child Protective Service Division of the Department of Social and Health Services.

MABTON - An art project in Betsy Desmarais' resource room at Mabton Jr./Sr. High School is making some Yakima Valley foster kids very happy.

Desmarais' class, seeking to do a community project, happened on the suitcase project, thanks to a suggestion from Tammy Leyendekker of Mabton.

Leyendekker told Desmarais of the need for suitcases for youngsters who are often forced to throw their clothing and other belongings into grocery bags for their moves from home to home.

"The project, known as Love Luggage" by the students, resulted in the Mabton students decorating more than 20 suitcases for the state Child Protective Services Foster Child Program, said Dorene Perez of the Sunnyside office of CPS.

"The children now have a suitcase to call their own," she said.

"We thought the students would enjoy helping others while learning how to transform the luggage from unsightly cast-offs into useful items," said Desmarais.

"They enjoyed the creative process, as well as the idea that they were helping others," said Desmarais.

Desmarais hopes to continue the luggage project next year.

"We are seeking donations of old, hard-sided suitcases which area residents may have tucked away some place," she said.

She asked that donations of suitcases be dropped off at the high school or those interested in helping call her at 894-4951.

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