Mission West Virginia has a unique mission for you this holiday - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Mission West Virginia has a unique mission for you this holiday season

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The saying goes "keep calm and carry on," but Mission West Virginia is going a step beyond that.  Their slogan is "give thanks and carry on," a plan to prevent foster children in West Virginia from using garbage bags to transport their belongings.

"We were seeing these kids carry their stuff in garbage bags, and it really bothered me.  It bothered our staff, and we wanted to do something about it," says Carrie Dawson of Mission West Virginia.

Dawson and her team have partnered with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Health and Human Resources to create the Carry On Campaign.  They are collecting new or gently used luggage and duffel bags.

"Not only is it great for the kids," says Dawson, "but a lot of people [say] I want to do something in my community.  I'd like to volunteer, but I don't know what to do.  I don't really have the time."

So far the Carry On Campaign has collected more than 2,000 pieces of luggage in West Virginia, but Dawson says West Virginia has around 4,000 children in foster care.  Their transition from broken home to foster care can be especially difficult around the holidays.

"While they are coming from a broken home, it is a very scary thing to be a child and moving from a place that you know, to a place that you don't.  And having their own things, and the ability to carry their own things, and maybe some new things to grab onto – it makes an extraordinary difference," says R. Booth Goodwin, U.S. Attorney.

The Carry On Campaign also encourages donors to include essential items or even toys in the bags if possible.  Dawson says the kids love that even more, and it helps with the transition.

"Even for something small, for them to be like, I have a toothbrush, I have my soap or my shampoo, you know just so they already have a few items of their own can really give them some dignity and pride," says Dawson.

You can drop off your new or gently used carry on sized bags at all Department of Health and Human Resources Offices in West Virginia.  More information on drop off locations and the project is available at www.missionwv.org.

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