STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Stonington woman has started a donation drive to help kids in foster care.

“I reached out to the community and I said ‘meet me at Stonington Pizza between three and four on Wednesday’ and this is what happened,” said Shannon DePerry, of Stonington, who revealed a car packed with donated suitcases and bags.

She started what she calls Operation Fresh Start to help kids who find themselves in foster care.

“I felt bad because I found out that foster kids didn’t have luggage, that they were carrying their things in trash bags and it hurt my heart,” said DePerry.

She has spread the word through social media and has gotten quite a response. Even her employer, the Howley Bread Group, which owns local Panera bread restaurants has joined the effort by holding a donation drive too.

“These kids get put into foster care, not because of the system, just because of life circumstances,” said Deperry.

She has expanded her effort to include toiletries, which she says some of the kids don’t even have.

“We got a rain poncho in there,” said Perry. “Shampoo, a puffy, soap, toothbrush.” 

She asked for old bags and luggage. She has gotten plenty of them along with new items as well.

“I’m happy to take it off your hands for you and clean out your closet for you,” said DePerry.

The bags and toiletries will go to local agencies which help kids.

“I’ve talked to people today at Waterford Country School, at New Haven DCF, and at the Main Street house in Noank,” explained DePerry.

She’s hoping to start distributing the donations soon.

“We have too many kids in this area that need a little love and a little dignity and a little something of their own,” said DePerry.

There are also plenty of people who want to help. You can connect with DePerry through her Facebook page.