Events & news Community newsroom Giving hope to children in foster care 23rd November 2020 Kathryn Rodda is on a mission to make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of children entering the foster care system. Through her project, Hope in a Suitcase, Kathryn wants to make sure the roughly 30 children a month entering foster care in our region have something they can call their own. Now, Kathryn is $3000 closer to achieving this goal. Her project was the Judges’ Choice award winner at Thursday night’s Community Innovators Pitch Night, held as part of the Fraser Coast Social Plan. As a long-time foster carer in Hervey Bay, Kathryn recognised a need to provide children with something they could call their own when entering the foster care system. Hope in a Suitcase is an Australian non-profit organisation run by passionate volunteers, showing children in the foster care system that they are loved and valued by their community. The initiative started in NSW and Kathryn has led the way to bring this vital service to the Fraser Coast region. “As a foster carer myself I knew the kids were coming to me with nothing, or bits and pieces in garbage bags,” said Kathryn. “During lockdown I looked for a way to help provide these kids with something and that’s when I connected with Hope in a Suitcase.” The service relies solely on donations to fill suitcases with essential items such as toiletries, clothing, cuddly toys, books, journals and items to encourage creativity and a distraction. “Our main mission right now is to try to get as many small businesses on board that can run donation drives, collecting essential items for all sizes,” Kathryn said. “At the moment I am storing all items in my garage and once I have suitcases packed per age group, they are then delivered directly to Churches of Christ or the maternity ward at the Hervey Bay Hospital.” Kathryn said the $3000 prize money would help her purchase storage tubs and suitcases for the donated items, as well as contributing to advertising and marketing costs. Voting for the Pitch Night Community Choice award is still open, with $2000 available to the pitch with the most votes. See our Facebook page for more information. If you would like to help out or start a donation drive at your workplace please contact [email protected] Caption: Kathryn Rodda with Pitch Night judges Tim Evans (Bendigo Bank branch manager), Jessie McCarthy (Bite the Blue founder, director and CEO) and Cr David Lewis (Fraser Coast Regional Council).