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DCFS: Foster children in need of backpacks, duffel bags

SALT LAKE CITY — For Merrick Graham, waiting is a part of his everyday routine.

These days he's waiting for his train to take him to and from work. But for five years, Graham was waiting to be adopted.

"After a while you get used to it," he said.

Graham, 18, grew up in the Utah foster care system, moving a total of 13 times, he said.

"The foster parents bag up your stuff with whatever bags you have, and most times everything I owned just ended up in garbage bags," he said.

Graham's story is not unique, according to the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. And the garbage bag issue isn't sitting well with DCFS officials.

"Taking a child from the home is hard enough," said Brent Platt, director of Utah’s child welfare agency. "It's not easy for the child, but there is neglect and abuse going on in our state."

It's hard to think about children being taken out of their homes around the holidays, but in December, the need is great, Platt said.

"Our caseworkers are moving quickly," he said. "We don't have time to run to a store and get backpacks or suitcases for these kids."

Platt says DCFS is not asking for money or presents for these foster children. They need bags.

"It might feel like a small thing, but it's a huge deal," he said. "It says to these kids and families that the community cares."

Graham isn't waiting anymore.

"I'm paying rent and, you know, living life," he said.

Graham is no longer in foster care but says he'll never forget how it affected him.

"Yeah, it was rough," he said.

The Division of Child and Family Services is seeking backpacks and duffel bags made of reasonably durable material that can be flattened for storage.

Donations can be dropped off at any of the 35 DCFS offices statewide. For locations, go to