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Duffels 4 Dignity and A Duffel Bag in Imagination Land (Deliveries 7/8)

I know for a fact I’ve mentioned this before: I want to give like no one else. That’s why I want to get out of debt. That’s why I want to sacrifice those things everyone thinks I “need” in order to “live” right now. I do it so that, later on,  I want to give most of my lifestyle away, and still whisk Amazewife off to a beach somewhere every couple of months.

This dream was rekindled tonight, but I have to preface the story. My family and I went to see Inside Out for my birthday on the 4th. It was a lot of fun. Most of the movie takes place in the thought processes of an 11 year old girl. Her emotions are the main characters. In fact, everyone’s emotions are characters of some kind.

During one part of the movie, Sadness and Joy have gotten lost. They try to find their way back. They find a long lost imaginary friend of the girl’s during their efforts. This friend leads them through a helpful “short cut” to a magical part of the girl’s mind called Imagination Land. This land is full of French Fry forests, spaceship carts and, of course, imaginary boyfriend dispensers.

My Imagination Land is prime brain real estate. I spend a lot of time there. I know because I feel like I space out all the time.

My lopsided radio crackled out a few more songs tonight before a charity spot popped on. For some reason it grabbed my attention. It was for Duffels 4 Dignity.


Per their website:

“[Nebraska Families Collaborative] launched the program in July 2013 in response to the concern that youth in foster care were transporting their personal belongings in nothing more than a trash bag. Trash bags are for trash; not for children’s belongings. All children deserve the respect and dignity to proudly carry their belongings in a duffel bag.”

The voice on the radio had said something similar.

Cue the harp. I floated into Imagination Land.

Stop imagining live-action video games, safe fireworks dispensers, new worlds of danger and intrigue, plus endless supplies of fire pits and fuel. That is totally NOT what is in my Imagination Land. Not always. It shuffles.

This time around I saw a kid. Tween, black, gangly, female. She had on super short shorts and a shirt that was too big. It was dirty and she smelled like cigarettes. She was carrying a black contractor’s trash bag with duct tape around the top to keep the bedbugs out.

A man in a suit opened the door to a mom van.

“That everything?” he asked.

“Yup,” she mumbled, throwing the bag in through the side as she climbed in.

She multiplied in my mind, but different every time. Hundreds of imaginary kids in the same situation, or better, or worse, passed across my limited understanding of what foster care can be like.

Imagination Land then shrunk. I was in an office. There was a hosta in a small pot in the back corner. The blinds were the same color as the wall paint. The trim was the same color, too. I hate it when people paint everything the same color. It’s so… gubernatorial.

I’m seated at a round, nondescript table in one of those jankity wire-leg chairs. Across from me is the Administrator. This is the fictitious head of Duffels 4 Dignity. They cut through red tape and bureaucratic bullpucky like light sabers through evil. They are the embodiment of good intent and decision making in a world of terrible management of bag distribution. Or maybe they aren’t. Maybe they are human and insecure. Maybe they are trying their best, but just can’t seem to find the donor.

But in my mind, they at least have nice shoes on.

It’s my Imagination Land. Back off about the shoes.

“I tell you what,” I tell the Administrator. “I won’t give you cash. I will order $100,000 worth of lifetime guaranteed duffle bags (no affiliation) from L.L. Bean. I will have them drop shipped to your office. Each bag will have their warranty certificate and a copy of the PO with it. It could be the child’s responsibility to care for the bag, but if they get jacked up, it’s L.L. Bean. If they’re still in the system, you help them with the return. If not, they call it in themselves and deal with it.”

In my imagination, a conversation would then ensue. My guess is they would mention the partnership with the manufacturers in Tanzania with whom they’ve made an agreement. At which point I would offer to fulfill the orders to the village in Tanzania, and then some. Because awesome.

I felt a rush at the thought of this. I yearned for the chance to have a private conversation like that, to provide material like that, and to help children like that.

But hey. Guess what. Can’t. I can’t do that while I’m under a $20,000 debt burden. I can’t do that while I have a negative net worth. I can’t do that if I don’t take a responsible step back, make a plan and save money. I can’t do that unless I deliver another pizza on a sub-par tip night while trying to sell a house.

That is why I’m bagging debt. That is why I’m bagging a measure of my own comforts for a while. That is why WE, our family, is trying to sacrifice. We have to be wise with money if we want to make a positive difference with it. But we have to be wise with money and sacrifice over time if we want to make a positive difference with a LOT of money. At least that’s how it seems.

Jesus said that the location of a person’s treasure is where their heart is (Luke, Matthew, 3 Nephi.) If I leave my generosity in Imagination Land, that’s all it will ever be: imaginary. If I leave my treasure in a bank account, that’s where my heart will stay. Frankly, I’d rather make a plan to give my heart out to children than have no plan and work my heart out for creditors.

Back to Duffels 4 Dignity. I asked a friend that has fostered kids before about those kids and their dignity. He said:

“We had five kids given to us by a court order, parental rights terminated, living in cars and flea bag hotels. Lots more than a duffel bag needed for their dignity.”

What little I’ve seen and heard of the foster situation in Nebraska/Iowa falls in line with this. Our kids need help. Can you write a check for $100,000 worth of duffel bags? Can you write a check for five or six? Can you write a check? Consider donating a duffel or cash to this cause if you have and can spare. Visit their website to see other helpful links where you can get involved if this isn’t your thing. The ripples of positive consequences for these kids from our combined generosity would be intense.

Here’s to making a difference, now and in the future.




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