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Jan. 1, 1970

Organization gathers to pack bags of love for foster youth

Filled Comfort Cases Backpacks | 250 Comfort Cases were packed on Wednesday morning thanks to volunteers in the Pikes Peak Region.

(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Inside the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, a group of Southern Colorado volunteers listened intently to the tales of hardship and heartache of growing up in the foster care system. Rob Scheer recounted his childhood upbringing and explained his mission to ensure no youth would face the indignity of using a garbage bag for their belongings again.

“Most people don’t realize that one child every two minutes in the United States will actually enter our foster care system, and the majority of them are handed this a trash bag,” Scheer said. “Well, 11 years ago, my family decided that this was no longer going to happen on our watch.”

In his upbringings within the foster care system, Scheer’s childhood was defined by hardship. However, amidst the challenges, he was determined to forge his own path to success.

There came the point where Scheer’s dreams of fatherhood came to life when he and his husband made the decision to become foster parents themselves. When the children arrived, Scheer was reminded of his own experience in the foster care system, as they too arrived with their possessions in trash bags.

“It was an absolute full circle moment because to tell you, I had not thought about the trash bag,” Scheer said. “Even though I keep one in my desk, I don’t dwell on it. So, it was very difficult to know that my kids, and by the way, we were their third placement, so understanding that they had been in two other foster homes with a trash bag, it’s just not acceptable.”

Now serving as the founder of Comfort Cases, Sheer not only shares his personal story but also leaves behind a sense of motivation and inspiration. Before volunteers fill these backpacks with essentials, they can remember his story inspiring the significant impact they are making on the lives of these children.

“I would actually place the kids in these foster homes, and I would see the trash bags,” said Executive Director of Colorado Community Health Alliance, Amy Yutzy. “Sometimes these kids would leave suddenly, and we’d have rooms full of trash bags that just maybe had a name with masking tape on it.”

The collaboration between Colorado Community Health Alliance (CCHA), Comfort Cases, and YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region made an event on Wednesday, Feb. 21 possible, contributing to a positive change for youth in Southern Colorado.

“We were thrilled today to have this event because it brought the whole community together,” Yutzy said. “We had the Department of Human Services. We had child placement agencies that help our kids in foster care and then certainly CCHA, and Comfort Cases and the YMCA. So, we could just pull all resources to build awareness for what our kids need in our community, and that is this backpack full of special goodies that these kids can have when they’re in placement.”

Volunteers helped pack backpacks with essential personal care items like deodorant and toothbrushes, as well as meaningful additions like blankets and stuffed animals. They were given special instructions to hug these stuffed animals, ensuring that the bags were filled with love.

“I would say the biggest piece is that it sets the tone for psychological safety and it really is key to a sense of belonging, belonging, wherever they land,” said Catania Jones, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services for El Paso County.

It did not take long for this team of volunteers to pack 250 Comfort Cases, which will go directly to helping youth in Southern Colorado.

“We contracted 23 child placement agencies in El Paso County and so they’ll go to those agencies, those are the agencies that primarily… license our foster homes,” Jone said.  “Some will go back to our office, so that way, if a child has to be removed in odd hours and we know we’re on our way on a scene, we can grab a bag and they’ll have it ready.”

At the end of the day, Scheer’s journey from hardship to hope resonated profoundly in the creation of Comfort Cases. While this is just one event of many that will take place across the country, he hopes it will help make the future brighter here in the Pikes Peak Region.

“3,700 children who have entered a system because of a choice that someone else made,” Scheer said. “3,700 children who deserve a brighter future than what we are giving kids in foster care today. So, what I want to make sure is, is that here in Colorado Springs, they don’t take this any longer [held up garbage bag], that they actually take a Comfort Case.”

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