The staff, faculty, and students from Ross Medical Education Center in New Baltimore, Michigan recently teamed up with Together We Rise to make Sweet Cases for children in foster care. Picture this: a five-year-old little girl is being told by a police officer and a social worker that she has to leave with them. Her parents are in another room yelling and crying. The officials quickly gather some of her things into a trash bag and take her from her home. When she is taken to her foster home, she is surrounded by new things, new smells, and new people. She has to unpack her belongings from a trash bag.
The thought of this very real scenario was just heartbreaking for those at the Ross New Baltimore campus. Foster children and their struggles have been especially heavy on the heart of Career Development Representative Linda Zmud for quite some time; specifically after a tragic family incident that caused the loss of one of her own. While on her own journey of researching to become a foster parent, she learned about an organization called Together We Rise and fell in love with their mission.
Together We Rise is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the way youth navigate through the foster care system in America. They provide many opportunities to volunteer. Linda was then moved to raise funds for their Sweet Case Operation and got the entire New Baltimore campus involved. “With the help of the New Baltimore students, staff, and friends,” said Campus Director Jennifer Maniaci, “we were able to raise $1,025 so that children in our community can go to their new surroundings with some type of dignity – a Sweet Case.”
Sweet Cases are duffle bags used in place of trash bags. Every student had the opportunity to hand decorate a Sweet Case for a foster child in their county. These decorated bags were then filled with a blanket, teddy bear, hygiene kit, coloring book, and crayons. The students also added in a handwritten note that included words of encouragement and hope for each child that will receive a Sweet Case during their foster care pick-up.
What New Baltimore staff loved most about this project was watching the students decorate the Sweet Cases as they poured love and attention into each unique design. “It was amazing to see to see our students get fired up and excited about doing something so heart-warming,” said Linda Zmud. The old saying: “It is More of a Blessing to Give Rather than Receive,” could never be more true, especially for the students and staff at Ross New Baltimore.