A Gloucester business and a local lawmaker are teaming up to help a charity organization provide suitcases to the state's foster children to use when they have to move from one home to another.
They're hoping the effort will encourage other residents and businesses to follow suit.
The Strong Group, based on Maplewood Avenue in Gloucester, and its subsidiary Strong Leather is supplying 150 to 160 suitcases that were picked up Thursday and will be delivered to Suitcases 4 Kids President Ron Nickerson at the North Andover Police Department today at 1 p.m.
Aiding in the effort are state Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr, R-Gloucester, and the Gloucester Rotary Club.
"Helping foster children move with dignity, one suitcase at a time!," is Suitcases 4 Kids' motto. The national group's Massachusetts goal is to collect 15,000 suitcases so that children moving in and out of state care have a place to keep their personal belongings.
"Unfortunately, most foster children move several times while in the care of the state, and often have nothing better than a plastic trash bag to transport their clothes, toys and other personal belongings," Tarr wrote on his Facebook page. "While the prospect of having to move several times in one's life is not ideal, being able to comfortably move and protect one's possessions will help ease that transition."
Steve Kaity, vice president of operations with The Strong Group and a past president and longtime member of Gloucester Rotary, said Thursday that he learned of the drive through fellow Rotarian Barry Pett, who serves as Tarr's special assistant.
"It came out of the blue," Kaity said. "And it just happened that we have these kind of nylon duffle bags, if you will, that we were more than happy to be able to donate.
"It's a perfect fit for us," he said, "to be able to help out."
According to Suitcases 4 Kids, 10,497 children are in foster care in Massachusetts, most for about 2 years and 9 months.
Tarr is inviting anyone with a new or gently used suitcase to donate to join him and company representatives at 1 p.m. Friday at the North Andover Police Station, 1475 Osgood St.
To read about one foster child's experience and to learn ways to help, visit http://suitcases4kids.org/.