BLOOMFIELD / NUTLEY, NJ — Matthew Furlong needs suitcases.
The Scout in Bloomfield’s Troop 22 is working on his Eagle Scout project and is collecting luggage for children in the foster care system to carry their belongings in. The idea was inspired by Furlong’s visits to courthouses as a child, when his mother, a prosecutor, would take him to work with her.
“I saw a lot of kids with plastic bags, and my mom told me why,” the Nutley High School senior said in a phone interview with The Independent Press on July 10. “Kids who age out of the system don’t have anything to put their stuff in.”
Furlong is calling the initiative “Suitcases to the Future” and will be giving the donated suitcases to the Nutley-based children’s nonprofit organization Buccos Rising Stars Foundation. The foundation was founded by Carmen Bucco, who himself was a foster child and knows firsthand how difficult it is for teenagers who age out of the system. Bucco’s foundation focuses on helping underserved youths and those exiting foster care prepare for self-sufficiency. For more information, visit www.buccosrisingstars.com.
Furlong, along with staff from the foundation, will bring luggage to children who need it once he has collected enough. Some luggage will be shipped to other places, as well.
The project, which is fulfilling one of the requirements that Life Scouts have to complete to reach the highest-ranking level of Eagle Scout in the Scouts BSA organization, is one that Furlong felt he could complete and one that he knew would help people who need it. Some other ideas, such as fixing up a nearby hiking trail, were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Individual people or organizations can donate to Furlong’s cause; new or gently used luggage can be dropped off at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 60 Byrd Ave. in Bloomfield, on July 24 between 5 and 6 p.m. and on July 25 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Other collection days will be on July 31 after the 5 p.m. Mass and Aug. 1 between 8 a.m. and noon at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 17 Monsignor Owens Place in Nutley.
More information can be found by emailing [email protected] or calling 201-655-5450.
“Once I have them all collected, then we’re going to bring them out to people,” Furlong said.