The past year has really made me think a lot about giving back to my community, and I’ve been looking for new ways to help those in need.
That’s why I was so verklempt to read about one celebrity who has been giving back in a deeply personal and meaningful way.
Grammy-winning comedienne Tiffany Haddish and her four younger siblings went into the American foster care system when she was just 12 years old.
As she told David Letterman:
“You’re dropped in these strangers’ houses, you don’t know these people, these people don’t know you, you don’t know if they’re gonna hurt you, if they’re gonna be kind, you don’t have a clue what’s going on.”
What always stuck with Haddish about making the foster care experience extra difficult was that when children are moved from home to home, they’re handed a garbage back to pack up their things.
It made her feel like garbage.
And then one day, in a small way, someone made a huge difference in her life.
Instead of a garbage bag, they gave her a suitcase. Now Haddish felt:
“Like I had a purpose, like I’m a person like I’m not garbage, I got this — it’s mine, and my things are in here, and wherever I go I can take this with me and I’m going somewhere.”
For years, Haddish had encouraged her fans to bring suitcases to her shows and donate them to foster children, including the Beech Brooke organization of Cleveland, Ohio:
These are only a few of the suitcases donated to Beech Brook through @TiffanyHaddish and the @ClevelandImprov's suitcase drive to benefit our foster care kids! Thank you to Tiffany and the Improv, along with all the people who so generously donated! pic.twitter.com/SuAcAeKkIs
— Beech Brook (@BeechBrookCleve) November 21, 2017
And The Villages of Indiana:
These are just some of the over 95 suitcases donated from last week’s Tiffany Haddish show in Bloomington. The…
After watching her interview with Letterman on Netflix last fall, a foster care specialist from from Lake County, Indiana, Shanell Manuel took note:
Watching the David Letterman interview with Tiffany Haddish who's a Sagittarius. When she spoke about how getting her first suitcase made her feel like a traveler, like she had purpose instead of feeling tossed about like trash while in foster care – I, a Sagittarius, felt that.
— Astrology by Mecca (@TheMeccanism) October 25, 2020
Haddish’s point about garbage bags struck a chord with Manuel, who had herself been bothered by the same thing.
As Distractify reported:
“She reached out to Tiffany’s She Ready Foundation, whose mission is to “protect, provide resources, and ensure normalcy for foster children.”
Once again, Haddish came through with 100 suitcases for Indiana foster kids last Christmas.
We wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU to @TiffanyHaddish. Tiffany – who has publicly shared her own experiences of being a child in foster care – wanted to do something special for Indiana's children, and boy, did she. More than 100 suitcases! 😮 Thank you, Tiffany! pic.twitter.com/hWDcHaCIdS
— Indiana DCS (@IndianaDCS) December 11, 2020
And her work has inspired other organizations to do suitcase drives in their communities too.
@somegoodnews I have been inspired by @TiffanyHaddish! We are organizing a suitcase drive this week for local foster kids in Albuquerque, NM. Our goal is 250 suitcases to help some beautiful children to feel special! #ourpastsdonotdefineus pic.twitter.com/aBpeO2FjDG
— ABeeQ Homes (@belinda75) March 1, 2021
But she’s not finished yet.
As Black Enterprise recently reported, Haddish’s She Ready Foundation has got a new project to help kids who age out of the foster system start careers in the entertainment industry:
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 15, 2020
The program is supported by Tiffany Haddish’s She Ready Foundation and Ready To Succeed, a Career Accelerator for foster youth, who will provide training, mentorship and ongoing support.”
It’s truly amazing to see someone so dedicated to helping out such a deserving and under-served demographic.
What do you think about the suitcase challenge? Let us know in the comments!