BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cara Finger is the Chief Bag Giver at My Bag My Story, a non-profit this Brentwood mom of three founded in August 2019.
“I was an adopted child myself and I was always very keenly aware that if I was not adopted that I would have ended up in foster care.”
For each duffel bag or backpack sold on the My Bag My Story website, a second duffel or backpack goes to a foster child in Middle Tennessee through agencies that place them. There are almost 9,000 children in foster care now in Tennessee.
Cara created this non-profit to improve the lives of foster children because of what she experienced as a foster parent herself.
“Every child that came to us came with a trash bag or a grocery bag with their stuff that they travel with. It bothered me. I started asking around everyone else that’s in our community of fostering do your kids come with trash bags. They’re like yeah, that’s very common. And I said it’s not common that a child carries a trash bag.”
Plus, there was a shocking call from another foster mom.
“You’re going to die. I’m going to send you a picture of what our child came with. And she sent me a sharps container. I was stunned that I mean, nothing is better than a sharps container. Cause who knew if it was cleaned out, who knew where it came from, but a child deserves a bag, something as simple as a bag can save their dignity and their self-respect.”
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services explains there are many reasons why foster children end up with few items in bags.
“Either the guardian is upset with the department about them leaving their home so they don’t provide their child with their clothing or their items, their hygiene items things like that or the home environment is too um, too dirty or has too many issues for it to be safe for that child to use things taken from that home,” said Cameron Crawford the Resource Linkage Coordinator for Davidson County.
So Cara turned to Belmont University Enactus for help. This entrepreneurial club empowers community partners to develop their business ideas and launch them. Enactus members nurture Cara’s business, housing merchandise plus they help ship items to customers.
All of Cara’s bags are manufactured in the U.S. out of recycled material. She has also taken her passion for foster children to another level, holding pop ups like this one at actress Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James to not only sell bags, but educate.
“Hopefully people get interested in talking to us that haven’t thought about foster care before, they get interested in, maybe this is something our family could do.”
She’s resuming pop ups in November as there’s a growing need for more foster families during COVID and wants to get the word out.
Despite COVID, My Bag My Story has provided about 500 bags for foster children throughout Middle Tennessee and as orders pick up, Cara plans to donate bags to foster care placement agencies statewide. Monroe Harding in Nashville is one of the beneficiaries.
“Cara is a hero because she
provides wonderful items to children that may not have had the opportunities or objects before. Cara’s also a hero because she’s being a voice for those who do not have that voice,” said Shan Edmondson Monroe Harding Director of Foster Care.
Cara bags are also a staple for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Resource Linkage in Nashville, a first stop for Davidson County children removed from their homes. Staff vividly remember one girl’s experience.
“One of the things that she wanted was a just were just things to call her own. she had a phone, she had things like that but she had nothing to put her belongings in um that was one of the first bags that we were able to give out from My Bag My Story that were given to us for that purpose. And when we showed her that yellow backpack um, she started crying um and she said that she’s always wanted a yellow backpack. We can’t send pictures of the face, too bad because she was smiling from ear to ear but we were able to send Cara a picture with the backpack on her and to tell her how excited she was to get that.” Cara Finger: “That’s why I do this because for kids to feel valuable and to feel like their dignity and self-respect is, is important is priceless to me.”
So we honor Cara Finger, founder of My Bag My Story as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Hero for the month of November presented by TriStar Health for her dedication to improving the lives of children in foster care by elevating their dignity and self-worth, and educating the public about the need for foster families.
If you’d like to help Cara click here.