'They smile ear-to-ear': St. Luke's helping out foster kids by gifting them suitcases

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:08:43-04

MERIDIAN, Idaho — St. Luke’s Health System sees about 100 kids in their outpatient system go into the foster care system every year with little to nothing of their own.

One St. Luke’s pediatrician, Matthew Cox, often sees children who end up in foster care. This gave him an idea of how to make the transition a little more welcoming. Almost 300 suitcases were collected by St. Luke’s employees to give to kids who are transitioning into the foster program in order to give them something of their own.

“The kids are in a circumstance that they really have no control over,” Cox said. “This is just a simple way of showing them that we care for them and we want them to be happy and bring a little joy to them at that tough time.”


“Just having been removed from a home because the concern of traumatic exposure and unsafe environment and seeing that those kids had very little of their own and often anything they had was in a garbage bag or grocery bag.”

So — suitcases were the answer. It’s a small operation that really took off among St. Luke’s employees mostly coming from the labor & delivery, postpartum and NICU teams.

Suitcase drive
Matthew Cox explains how the suitcase drive started.

“The staff at Meridian and the mother-baby unit really took this on and did a couple drives now so we can new suitcases to give to kids who are in foster care in the state of Idaho and some in Oregon as well,” Cox said.

The kids range in age and St. Luke’s offers a variety of suitcases to pick from.

“My favorite moments are watching the three, four and five-year-olds wheeling out a suitcase which they’ve never had to do. Trying to figure out how to do it but walking out of the clinic,” Cox said. “Those are some of the memories I hold onto because it just shows you brightened a day. They smile ear to ear and they are overjoyed having something of their own and something brand new.”

This is an internal drive through St. Luke's employees. However, there are plenty of other ways the community can help meet other needs, including through theBoise Rescue Mission's "Success in School = Success in Life" program.