It was her mother’s memories of multiple moving days that gave Alexa Violette an appreciation for a decent piece of luggage.
“My mom was in orphanages until age 10 and was transferred to four different foster homes,” says Violette, a junior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. “She used to carry her belongings in a Hefty bag and she felt torn down by that.”
So recently Violette’s family driveway was filled with more than 250 pieces of luggage in response to her luggage drive, all of which would make their way into the hands of children living in group homes run by the Childhelp organization. The luggage donations came from the SMCHS community and Goodwill.
Violette’s mother is the President of the Orange County Chapter of Childhelp, a 55-year-old national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. Violette’s involvement with Childhelp began when she was 4 years old and accompanied her mother on visits to several Childhelp group homes, where she made friends with the children there.
Today Violette’s family is part of the Childhelp Special Friends program, which allows children under Childhelp’s care to live with selected families part time. Through Special Friends, Violette gained a friend named Billie, who stayed with her family several days a week beginning when she was 6 years old. She is now 24 and married.
“Childhelp gave me the sister I never had,” says Violette. “She was there when I was born and recently my father even walked her down the aisle at her wedding.
Violette says she hopes that by giving foster children luggage in which to carry their belongings that she will also be giving them a sense of dignity. Most of the pieces will go to the Merv Griffin Village in Beaumont. Childhelp also operates three group homes in Costa Mesa that will benefit from the drive.
“I know that these children will have the biggest smile when they receive their luggage because it shows that other people do care for them and are watching over them,” she says.