MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO asked, and our viewers and readers responded big time.

Last month, WCCO reported on the need in the foster care system. Because of the pandemic, fewer families are hosting foster kids. That means more kids are in transition, and are often having to use garbage bags to move their belongings. But hundreds of kids will now have a better handle on life.

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Growing up can be tough for anyone, but Trace Ludewig and his twin brother had some extra tough times.

“I remember the day exactly, actually. It was Dec. 5th, 1999, I was in the foster care system on a farm in southern Minnesota,” Ludewig said.

Trace Ludewig (credit: CBS)

He says although he had several good foster families, this experience was bad.

“I recall that my foster mom was throwing my personal belongings out the window, and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office deputy had to pick up my stuff and place it in a plastic bag,” he said.

Twenty-two years later, the Twin Cities business leader was watching when WCCO showed the need for foster kids to have bags of their own.

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“I initially saw the first WCCO video online and it really resonated with me,” Ludewig said. “When you are in the foster care system, you don’t have a lot of items, like right? Putting it in a black garbage bag, it just makes you feel like you’re trash, right? Or that you’re not worth anything.”

So he got online sharing WCCO’s story, and his own, on social media. He and his friends raised $600 for brand-new suitcases. And it turns out he was in good company. Joelene Evenson is senior director of Nexus Foundation.

(credit: CBS)

“The response was incredible. We’ve had nearly 100 suitcases donated just in the few weeks that story ran, and on top of that more than $2,000 in cash donations has been purchased to buy new bags,” Evenson said.

As beautiful as this gesture was, there was an even more beautiful way that WCCO viewers responded. Nexus Family Healing heard from WCCO viewers interested in becoming foster families. Evenson says she is deeply thankful.

“Thank you, thank you for opening your hearts, and thank you for understanding that there are so many children and teenagers that need safe places to live,” Evenson said.

And until that happens, hundreds of kids will now have bags to carry them through. If you would like to join in on this effort, there are still three ways to help:

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  • Donate a gently-used suitcase
  • Donate cash
  • Consider becoming a foster parent yourself.

Click here to find more ways to help on Nexus Family Healing’s website.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield