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American actress, comedian, and author Tiffany Haddish is known for her unshakable candor and sense of humor. And although she’s a pro at making people laugh, her background is anything but a joke. As a young teenager, she spent several years in foster care, and struggled to find a place where she felt at home. One of the most difficult things about being a child in the system is constantly having to pack your things inside a trash bag. For Haddish, her experience improved when she began using proper luggage and started feeling more like a “traveler.” That’s why she’s donated 100 suitcases to kids in foster care, so they can feel like they’re on an adventure, too.
Haddish’s father left the family when she was still a toddler, and her mother suffered brain damage after a car accident. Unfortunately, her mom’s demeanor changed to become abusive, and it was no longer safe for Haddish and her siblings to live with her. At 12 years old, Haddish was placed in the foster care system. “[It’s] the worst feeling in the world,” she reveals in an interview with 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.”
Constantly moving from one home to the next, Haddish—just like many other foster kids—had to pack her belongings into a trash bag. This wasn’t great for her self-esteem, but when she began using luggage, her mindset changed. “[It was] like I had a purpose,” she says. “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.”
When Shanell Manuel—a foster care specialist supervisor for Lake County with the Indiana Department of Child Services—heard of Haddish’s upbringing, she was inspired to reach out. She contacted Haddish’s She Ready Foundation, which “empowers, supports, and encourages children living within the foster care system.” Haddish agreed to donate 100 suitcases to foster kids as a Christmas gift. Each bag was distributed to children on December 19, 2020, during Lake County's DCS Christmas event. “[The] suitcases were one aspect of it [The Christmas celebration], for our older youth,” said Ellis Dumas, Lake County's regional manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services. “Often, it's hard to buy gifts for teenagers in general. So to be able to give them something that they're going to be tangibly using is always phenomenal and awesome—Miss Haddish made that possible.”
Tiffany Haddish donated 100 suitcases to kids in foster care so they wouldn't have to pack their belongings into trash bags.
Our friends at @nwi have a great story about the amazing generosity of actress/comedian @TiffanyHaddish, who helped us spread holiday cheer to more than 400 children! We've said it before, but thank you so much, again, for your donation, @TiffanyHaddish!https://t.co/ZKGOyh5Rd3
— Indiana DCS (@IndianaDCS) January 4, 2021
Haddish spent several years in the foster care system, so she understands how a simple thing like having proper luggage can help.
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
I saw Tiffany Haddish talk about how finally getting a suitcase while in the system felt and it broke my heart to think about all the kids going through all that. Fostering is a must for me
— Not your mate (@pisceanvibess) November 10, 2020
This isn't the first time Haddish donated suitcases. In 2019, she gave 95 pieces of luggage to the children of The Villages Foster Care Adoption service.
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