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Keeping Up with the Dundees: Suitcases of Smiles, Part Two

Last time on Keeping Up with the Dundees, Laurel Springs sophomore Gracie and alumna Lauren were packing bags for the third year of “Suitcases of Smiles.” This initiative provides essential and comfort items to students and children in foster care. Their 501(c)3 nonprofit, Small Acts Big Change, packed 83 books, 113 toys, and 802 school supplies—making the back-to-school season brighter for 134 students. 

The packing continued in October as the girls turned their focus on the homeless. “Suitcases of Smiles is one of a few of our annual campaigns that we run for two months rather than one month,” explains Gracie. “As the need for Suitcases has grown, we realized that if we extended our efforts over a two-month period, we could make a bigger impact and get more supplies into the hands of the people who need them.” By dedicating two months to one campaign, the Dundees were able to gather more donations and enlist the help of corporations to support their efforts. Here’s how it’s going so far.

October Overflows with Treats

If you’ve been keeping up with this fundraising family, you know they tend to go all out with their philanthropic plans. In addition to filling more suitcases, they are also running a sock drive and partnering with Scarf Bombardiers to support the next campaign, Share Your Warmth.

The new Suitcases of Smiles will be filled with books, blankets, and more for the homeless. The culmination of the month’s collections was an event where they joined Shower of Hope in supporting people living on the streets in Los Angeles. “Shower of Hope will provide warm showers to people in need with their truck, and we will provide 20 ‘suitcases’ to homeless people attending the event,” says Lauren. “Each bag consists of a warm blanket, warm socks, a book, a hygiene kit, and non-perishable food items.”

Many corporations have stepped up to support these efforts, including TJ Maxx who donated reusable, waterproof bags; American Blanket Co. donated blankets; Costco provided some of the essential supplies; Trader Joe’s offered food items; Vroman’s Bookstore donated the books; the Community Center of La Canada Flintridge helped with the sock drive; and volunteers of Small Acts Big Change collected more hygiene products. 

The Collections Continue

Giving is an ongoing effort, and so the Dundees will continue to collect sock and scarf donations. Throughout October, they received over 300 pairs of socks and 75 scarves. If you would like to contribute, please mail your donation to Small Acts Big Change. Suitcases of Smiles, PO Box 1374, La Canada, CA 91012. What they collect will also go toward the Share Your Warmth project. “Our Share Your Warmth campaign is about good people using their warm hearts to bring comfort and warmth to people and animals in need.” This entails collecting cozy items like new/gently used coats, sweatshirts, scarves, hats, socks, and pet beds to pass to people, injured wildlife, and shelter animals in need. “If you feel like cleaning out your closets, please keep us in mind. Even one hat makes a big difference to someone living outside in the cold weather.”

Next time, we’ll catch up to see how their Books, Bags & Blankets initiative and Scarf Bombing with Scarf Bombardiers worked out. Also, we’ll learn more about their next project, Adopt an Angel, which will be part of December’s campaign to serve under-privileged children.