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Jul 28, 2010 11:46 PM by Chris Welty

Program Gives Bags to Children Before Foster Care

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Mindy and Andrew Viteri are on a mission.
They want to help children entering the foster care system begin
their journey on the right foot.
And part of that new beginning includes how they're treated the
moment they leave their homes.
"We're hearing these children are handed a trash bag to put
their personal belongings in," Mindy Viteri said. "What a
horrible thing to do but so easy to solve."
That's why the Viteris have begun a campaign called Bags Not
Rags to collect bags - from duffles to backpacks - so children will
no longer have to pack their meager belongings in plastic garbage
bags.
"It's bad enough for a child to leave everything he or she
knows and loves, but then to have all their belongings placed in a
trash bag places a feeling of worthlessness on top of it all,"
Mindy Viteri said.
The Viteris, who have two young children, own an accounting firm
in Shreveport. And while they're not part of the children services
system, they're committed to help fill the gaps as needed. That's
why they have teamed up with social services and other children's
organizations to distribute luggage-style bags to children entering
foster care.
"The Department of Social Services is happy to show what
children go through and what they don't have money for," Mindy
Viteri said. "There's so much more we can do to help these
children in tiny ways that helps so much."
The Viteris already have collected more than 80 bags.
"It's been amazing how much we've gotten," Mindy Viteri said.
"This will cover Shreveport-Bossier for a month or two."
But it's a never-ending battle.
"In every 24-hour period, 852 children (nationally) are placed
into the foster system," Mindy Viteri said. "As long as people
are not taking care of their children, there are children who need
to be taken care of."
Viteri said she and Andrew have gone door to door making people
aware of the need, and they've gone to various vendors asking for
donations.
"Sometimes they'll hand me a whole load of them," Mindy
Viterri said. "We'll take company logos or not. We don't care."
The couple also asks the public to take their own inventory.
"So many children have a backpack. They have SpongeBob and now
have to have Superman," she said. "There's nothing wrong with the
old one but it goes from the closet to the attic to the trash."

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