The Duffle Bag Project Shoulders a Burden for Children in Foster Care and People Without Housing.

by | Apr 2024

WHAT IF you were moving out of your home and had to pack all of your belongings — your most important possessions — into one giant trash bag? You would probably feel embarrassed at the least and maybe a little less “human” at the most. 

That scenario of packing up every possession into a trash bag is all too real for many children in our nation’s foster care system. In fact, an alarming amount of foster children travel from one home to the next with their belongings stuffed in trash bags. It’s not a dignified way to live or move. This is why Karinna Hall, her family, and volunteers stepped in and started The Duffle Bag Project. 

Just prior to the COVID pandemic in 2020, Hall said God impressed her with the idea of providing new 22-inch duffle bags for foster kids and homeless people, in which they could carry their belongings. Hall had never been involved in the foster care system and really didn’t know anything about foster care at all. 

“The idea and its urgency just wouldn’t go away,” Hall said, and God’s prompting kept the project moving forward. 

There was a significant addition to providing the duffle bags. Hall points out that not only did she know she had to give out bags, but they had to have a connection to the Bible. She wanted to give foster kids more than the dignity of a proper way to carry their belongings. One of the many people God used to help The Duffle Bag Project move forward suggested the Bible verse Joshua 1:9, which reads, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

That verse is embroidered on every bag that Hall and The Duffle Bag Project volunteers give out. Hall notes that she wanted the verse to be a permanent part of the bag, not just a card put inside, adding that a Bible is also included with each bag, too. In fact, The Duffle Bag Project volunteers take the time to add tabs to each Bible, marking off the beginning of each of the Bible’s 66 books for easier access. 

“Our desire is to plant seeds and let God take it from there,” Hall explains. 

She’s quick to add that the project is not just a nonprofit organization; it’s a ministry.

When the nonprofit was founded, Hall noted it was getting 24 bags out per month. Fast forward to today, and The Duffle Bag Project just acquired an industrial embroidering machine. That, combined with the project’s embroidery team, will produce about 160-240 bags monthly.

As the years went by, Hall was continually amazed with the connections she was able to make, getting the duffle bags into the hands of more foster kids — not only in Lynchburg but around the country and even the world. She contacted a local branch of Isaiah 1:17 House, a transition home for foster kids while they await their next foster family placement, and began providing duffle bags to its clients.

Hall talked with the staff at Thomas Road Baptist Church’s (TRBC) foster and adoption program to see how they might work together. TRBC offered The Duffle Bag Project an office space, which became another locale for duffle bag distribution. Hall added that the space came with a loading dock.

With over 2,700 bags and 1,500 Bibles given out already, The Duffle Bag Project is now serving foster kids and homeless people with 30 locations in eight states and other countries such as Pakistan and Uganda. The project now has additional ties to Lynchburg with Patrick Henry Family Services and the Miller Home for Girls. 

“God — He keeps opening the doors,” Hall points out. “I feel like ‘awesome’ is used too often, but this is awesome.” 

While Hall doesn’t necessarily have any numerical goals for the next five years, she emphasizes that she wants to stay focused on the initial “marching orders” she believes God gave her: to make and provide bags and Bibles.

Hall said her work has not come without some personal changes. 

God’s been refining my heart, making me more open to what He puts in front of me,” she said.

The project has two key needs: funds and volunteers. Hall knows more can be done, and more people are waiting to get involved. 

“I just want these kids to know they’re loved.” GN 

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