Gift of Love: Love Luggage Project -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

5/2/07 - Longview

Gift of Love: Love Luggage Project

Peering in the window of the Longview Museum of Fine Arts you can see the faces of the Pink Panther, Sponge Bob Square Pants, even Mickey Mouse and Superman. This display was made by local students. They transformed ordinary pieces of luggage, in to extraordinary works of art.

Trevor McKinney, a sophomore from Spring Hill High School shows off the suitcase he painted. "I put batman on mine because when I was little I liked batman. So hopefully kids will like it now."

It's called the "Love Luggage" Project helping area foster children. "Often when children come in to foster care, they come with nothing or what they do have is in a paper bag or sack," explains Callie Reneau with Buckner Children and Family Services.

Each foster child placed through this state agency will be given one of these suitcases, giving them some dignity during a difficult time in their life.

"It's more than just something to keep their belongings in, it's really a gift for them that they can keep forever," says Callie.

"It's really special because they don't have as much and it's nice just to know that you could be making their year and just putting a smile on their face," says Kelsie Welch who painted "Hello Kitty" on her suitcase.

This is the fifth year the Longview Museum has partnered with high school art departments. "You're looking at the luggage and it just kind of takes a piece of your heart. They spend so much time on it and they have such a blast," says Niki Blaske, Education Director at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.

Each brush stroke, drawn with perfection.  "You see them walk to this point right here and then they slow down and then they stop and then they press their faces against the window," says Niki about people passing by the window.

From stars, to dots and strips, some suitcases seemingly out of this world displaying planets. Others carry an encouraging word, as is evident by the poems filling every crevasse of the curved cases. And all, are hand painted with love.

Trevor says, "It makes me grateful for the things I do have. I'm glad I can help."

One by one the "Love Luggage" display disappeared from the window as the Spring Hill High School students loaded up the suitcases, ready for their next journey. While an empty space is left behind, an empty space is filled in the hearts of local foster child as these suitcases give them hope, making sure their future travels will be filled with love.

In addition to Spring Hill, several other area high schools have participated in the "Love Luggage" Project including: Pine Tree, Gilmer, Tatum, Sabine, Hallsville, Longview and Trinity School of Texas.

If you'd like to know more about the "Love Luggage" Project call our Gift of Love hotline, toll-free, 1-888-kids-275.

Gillian Sheridan, Reporting












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