MatchBack Monday: September 18

They’re just shirts. Right?

Actually, before you answer, let’s just back it up for a minute.

What do you do with a trash bag?

Go ahead, answer the question, it’s not rhetorical and I have no witty punchline waiting for you.

I don’t know about you, but in my household, we use them for, well, trash. As in unwanted, possibly sticky, oftentimes stinky, garbage. Once a week, collection day comes around and that trash bag is gone, making its way to a landfill.

For many youths entering the foster system, however, a trash bag serves as suitcase. That same disposable piece of plastic we dump our empty Chobani containers and Diet Coke cans in, is the very same piece of plastic charged with the responsibility of holding any and all links to their past, and their provisions for the future.

If you were to Google “trash bags and foster kids” you will find a bevy of organizations seeking donations of luggage and duffel bags to combat this very unfortunate circumstance. Research a little further, and you will discover that oftentimes these organizations strive to include personal hygiene necessities and items as basic as socks within each donated bag.

A toothbrush. Shampoo. Maybe a comb and some clean underwear. All things most of us take for granted are those very same things that a foster child is likely in need of.

Suddenly it becomes much easier to understand the significance that a new shirt can have.

One of the things that we hear time and again from the foster organizations that we work with is just how much of a priority obtaining clothing for their youth is. It would be difficult for us to overemphasize how excited these organizations are to provide their kids with a brand-new hat and shirt. Items wholly their own, with the inherent power to simply help them not stick out at school.

Shirts won’t save the world. But they sure as heck are a great way to offer a little dignity, confidence, and support—an opportunity to place a figurative piece of your heart quite literally on another’s back.

So, no, they’re not just shirts.