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Titans Work Together to Change the Lives of Foster Youth, One Bag at a Time

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For Cal State Fullerton nursing student and May graduate Annmarie Herrera, leading a fundraising effort to give foster youth “sweet cases” to carry their belongings hit home.

The School of Nursing and Guardian Scholars Program for current and former foster youth teamed with the community organization Together We Rise to raise $4,128.43 for the project dubbed “Sweet Cases.”

Students, faculty, staff and community members came together May 7 to pack 165 “sweet cases” — decorated duffel bags stuffed with essentials such as hygiene products and blankets, as well as letters and even teddy bears. The bags will be donated to foster care organizations in the region.

A graduating Guardian Scholar and aspiring critical care nurse, Herrera led the fundraising effort with help from Sharrica Miller, assistant professor of nursing, during May, which is National Foster Care Awareness Month.

“Coming from a background of foster care, the experience was far from great. Youth are vulnerable, alone, and it’s challenging to navigate through a harsh system. I, and thousands of other foster youth, know what it’s like to use trash bags to carry our personal items when moving place to place as I did when leaving Orangewood Children’s Home to go to my foster home,” said Herrera, president of CSUF’s Nursing Student Association.

“This project really comes from the heart to give back in a meaningful way so children feel accepted and have everything that a child should have.”

Herrera, who entered foster care when she was 15, added that she wants to use her background to the advantage of others. “I worked hard to pay it forward. I was grateful for whatever help I received in the smallest of ways, and I want to keep that process going for others.”