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Packing Promise

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They don’t call Makenzie Snyder the Bag Lady for nothing. On a recent afternoon the 8-year-old climbed the steps of a group home in Greenbelt, Md., with 15 large duffels dangling from her arms. She then gave them to the teenage residents, adding to the 1,000 other suitcases and bags she has donated as part of Children to Children, her program to supply luggage to foster kids. The delivery “makes me feel good,” says the Bowie, Md., third grader. “And I feel excited that they’re getting something good.”

Children to Children started last year when Makenzie heard stories of how foster kids shuttling from placement to placement had to carry their few possessions in trash bags. “I felt really sad,” she recalls. Then, remembering the drive her two older brothers had run to buy some equipment for the local fire department, Makenzie told her mother that she “wanted to go to a yard sale and get some suitcases.” Observes proud mom Margie, 35, a homemaker: “She’s always been independent.”

Soon Makenzie’s mother and father (Daniel, 37, is safety director for a construction firm) were ferrying the youngster to her deliveries. When word of the program spread, her Brownie troop and the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department pitched in, collecting donations. Makenzie carefully packs each bag with a stuffed animal and a note that says, “God told me you could use a duffel bag and a cuddly friend. So I send this with love to you.”

In September, Makenzie received a $15,000 grant from the Freddie Mac Foundation to buy more bags and toys. “It is clear to us that Makenzie is going to go far in life,” says Maxine B. Baker, executive director of the Northern Virginia-based group. “She is making children touched by her kindness feel special.”