'Families come in and out with trash bags': St. Vincent de Paul intern holds luggage drive

A St. Vincent de Paul intern organized a luggage drive to help the homeless who carry their possessions around with them. The luggage will help them keep their belongings safe and easy to carry. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. – A University of Oregon student sparked an idea to help the homeless keep their belongings safe. It led to a first-of-its-kind donation drive for St. Vincent de Paul.

Aundrea Braniff, a University of Oregon senior and a St. Vincent de Paul intern, found a way to give new life to unwanted luggage.

“I've been really seeing families come in and out with trash bags that are ripping and not locking and just looks like a hassle,” Braniff said. “Not only difficult, but it projects a lot of negative stigma on the family.”

For her senior project, Braniff is replacing ripped bags with reliable luggage for families who fell on hard times – families like the Carpenters.

The Carpenters said the luggage can secure items most people take for granted.

“Clothes, laundry soap, you know food that we get, that sort of stuff,” Robin Carpenter said.

“It's really just filling in a tiny hole that I spotted as an intern that can benefit the families directly,” Braniff said.

It might seem like a small idea, but it’s making a big difference.

St. Vincent de Paul said they had more than 100 bags donated within the first hour. They said 50 of those bags will be used once again.

“It helps others out in a big way you know, and it also helps us too,” Keith Carpenter said.

The luggage drive will continue Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at First Place Family Center in Eugene. All working luggage is accepted.

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