By Josh LaBella
When Kathryn Johnson sees people leaving out old suitcases to be picked up during bulk trash day, she sees an opportunity. Johnson is looking for partners to join her in starting “Kathy’s Suitcases for a Cause.”
The homemaker, baker and crafts-maker said she has lived in West Have for 13 years. She said she sees an opportunity to supply families or individuals in need, such as homeless people or orphan children, with rollaway suitcases and travel locks to give them a secure way to transport their personal belongings.
Johnson said hopes to find people who are willing to donate their space to hold the suitcases or their time deliver them.
“I need a place to store them,” said Johnson. “I also need volunteers to give them out.”
Johnson said she wants to focus primarily on two populations: the homeless and children slated for foster care.
“People in West Haven would be the priority,” said Johnson. “People that are very much in need. The next thing would be children that are in transition – being adopted or moved to a different foster home.”
Johnson said she got the idea in the spring when she saw suitcases on the side of the road for bulk pickup day. She said she asked herself how they could be better utilized. The homemaker said she sees a lot of people walking by her home with carriages that hold their belongings.
“They are picking up cans,” said Johnson. “They have their clothes in plastic bags.”
In reference to children in foster care, Johnson said she was in the foster care when she was a child. She said she thinks it would be nice to give children something to carry their belongings in when they are uprooted.
“You don’t know until you are actually in that situation,” said Johnson.
According to Johnson, she also wants to collect donated personal hygiene products for people in need. She is considering filling each suitcase with them.
“I just want to get this thing going,” said Johnson. “I don’t think anyone has really thought of this.”
Johnson said whether they partner with the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families or nonprofits in the area, she just wants to make a difference.
Johnson said anyone interested in helping her in this effort can call her at (203) 361-4789.