Providing Comfort for Kids During Tough Times

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- For some kids in foster care, that moment when they're taken away from their home may mean they leave with nothing more than just the clothes on their back.

One woman has made it her life's mission to make what can be a difficult transition a little more comfortable.

Linda Coolbaugh and her husband Gerald unloaded backpacks full of toys, pajamas, and toothbrushes for Luzerne County Children and Youth.

She does it because many times kids who are placed into foster care don't have time to pack a bag like this on their own.

"There's so much that's needed, not just a home."

Linda has been collecting these backpacks and all the goodies inside for eight years through her organization S.M.I.L.E. She knows from first-hand experience children can be placed into foster care with just a moment's notice.

"My husband and I have fostered in the past, and it's an emotional thing for the children, for the foster parents," she said.

Packing up all these backpacks is no easy feat. Linda's husband says she is always picking up donations.

"She just goes from 5:30 in the morning to 10 o'clock at night constantly," said Gerald Coolbaugh.

Right now, Luzerne County Children and Youth is helping 450 kids with out-of-home care, which is why these donations make such a big difference.

"It's really like a child getting a gift. It also helps with their transition to make it not as scary because they're taking something with them that's their own," said David Gaugler, Luzerne County Children and Youth.

Even though dropping off these donations brings Linda so much joy, she'd gladly give it up if the need went away.

"Hopefully, someday none of this would be needed. That would be awesome," Linda said.

For more information about how to donate and help Linda pack more of these bags for Luzerne County Children and Youth, email her here.

Luzerne County Children and Youth says it is also in need of more foster parents.

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