West Hartford teen collects gently-used luggage for foster kids who move around

Connecticut Families

Dozens of suitcases, piled-up high and filled with supplies…symbols of a generous and empathetic spirit.

15-year-old Dylan Maldonado is collecting gently-used luggage for a population that needs it desperately.  He’s giving it to foster children

“It’s just so sad to see that they carry (their things) with garbage bags and grocery store bags and they have nothing at all,” says Dylan, noting it’s a reality he knows well.  “I entered the foster care system at 9-months-old.” 

After 4 years, he and his twin brother, Tyler, were adopted, leaving a painful past behind but not forgotten. 

“My sister had to take care of me every day when she came home from school because my mother overdosed and was addicted to drugs,” he says.

“He’s very humble, sincere and genuine,” says adoptive mother, Doris, who is so proud of her son’s accomplishments. 

He was recently invited to Special Education Day at the Capitol in Hartford, and he presented his luggage initiative at a conference in Washington DC. 

“For him to internalize and re-focus and say, ‘Wow, I went through this and don’t want anyone else to go through this and I want to do something about it – it’s way beyond his years.”

The family is giving back in another way.  They’ve taken-in 9 foster children in the last 2 years. 

“Now I know what they’re going through,” says Dylan. 

With a simple suitcase, he wants to give these children dignity, and he hopes his story serves as inspiration for any child currently in turmoil. 

“After they watch this news interview hopefully it’ll show more kids there is hope and for people who don’t think there’s hope you can’t just give up you have to keep on trying,” he says with emotion.

Dylan — who struggles with learning disabilities — plans to continue his initiative during his college years.  He hopes the concept spreads across the nation and globe.

Click here for more information about Kids in Care Luggage of Love.

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