Unconditional Love & Durable Luggage for Emancipating Youth in Lucas County, OH!

May 2021 - Graduation & Inaugural Distribution Event


Generous Donations for Youth

Care Products

Generous Donations for Youth


Love and Luggage
Sarah and Jim Otis 419/283-4298
In honor of Amanda Lynn Otis

History of Love and Luggage

In 1999 a scrappy, cautious nine-year-old girl came to our home to be adopted. She had been in foster care through Lucas County Children Services for the prior 3-years. She was 9 soon to be 10. We had built our home life ready and able to bring Amanda into it with love, God’s guidance and the love and support of a loving church and personal home family. We did all that was prescribed by Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) to make it a safe environment and one that would encourage and embrace her arrival in December of that year. Her name: Amanda Lynn Otis.

Amanda and her case worker showed up with two black garbage bags of her personal belongings. She came with her possessions of 10 years in two bags. How do we measure the life of a child who has had a life of personal trauma in two garbage bags? What defined her was hurtful and was demeaning. We knew we could do better. She thought nothing of being packed up in two garbage bags. This was her life.

Around 2010, the concept of Love and Luggage was developed (in heart and in theory). In 2018, conversations began with LCCS about this concept. There were grants available, but to submit to the Greater Toledo Community Foundation or other prospective donor foundations, one had to be a registered 501.c.3. It was not our desire to create another nonprofit in Northwest Ohio. Teaming up with a local nonprofit that also worked with foster youth was the best way to support this idea. Eventually, a decision was made to team up as a project of Adopt America Network. What began as a mutual connection has grown into a supported program that encourages adoption and healthy relationships for these youth.

Need for Love and Luggage

424,000 children are in Foster Care in the United States. On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.

In 2018, LCCS had an average daily caseload of 1,471 children. Almost all (98 percent) of these children were living in a family environment:

   • 605 (41 percent) were living in their own homes
   • 431 (30 percent) were in foster care or a similar placement
   • 401 (27 percent) were living with a relative or other kinship caregiver

Love and Luggage is meant to address the need for a caseload of 30 children yearly. Starting out for 2021, LAL will meet the need for teens (18-21) who are emancipating from the child welfare system. Once they graduate high school, most of these teens will be going to reside on their own-- attending college, joining an apprenticeship or other training, or entering the work world. Since they lived in group, foster, or relative caregiver homes, most won’t have the amenities necessary to start living on their own.

These young adults could benefit from adult luggage large enough to put their personal belongings in. Additional items to go in the bags based on recommendation will be provided through a pantry housed at First Presbyterian Church of Maumee. (Love First) Included in each duffle bag – as examples would be hygiene items, a towel set, housewares, cleaning supplies, personal items and a Visa Card and a NIV Bible. In addition, there will be a resource guide for organizations and support systems/numbers to contact. (This is best determined by needs identified by supporting organization.

Sustainability of LAL- Outcomes The sustainability of Love and Luggage is a crucial consideration because teens emancipate from care year after year. It is also our desire to see this grow into Love and Luggage to support the number of children in foster care but are taking the call to help those emancipating from LCCS.

The number of LCCS teens emancipating will vary, so the annual expense will rise or fall depending on that figure. The long-term viability of the program will depend on donors such as churches, businesses, civic organizations individuals, and foundations. The Otis’ will be tithing to fund this project.

There is interest to move to a more holistic approach to support emancipated youth through partnerships that support teens. Post COVID will allow us to expand on this opportunity. This is a community “investment,” because the more successful emancipating teens are at transitioning into adulthood, the more likely they will become productive, taxpaying citizens themselves. Teen homelessness is a particular problem among emancipating teens, both locally and nationwide. This then leads to other problems, such as crime, drug use, and others. Statistically, 70% of emancipated youth will be homeless within their first two years.

At each quarterly gathering, a short survey is given to help us adjust what we are offering and how we can be of support to these young people.

Proposed Timeline: Jan 2021-Dec 2021
Discussion with potential partners – Fall/Winter 2020 (LCCS /Adopt America Network)
Submission to GTCF – Jan 2021
Submit to FPC Endowment- Feb 2021
MOU with partnering agency- Winter/Spring 2021
Facebook Page launched- May 19, 2021 (LandLNWO)
Donation drive for items- May – June for 2021 event. Year round for following years
Graduation Event for emancipated youth- June 11, 2021 (10 youth)
Better Together – Spring/Summer 2021 ON HOLD due to COVID
Involved LCCS emancipation Unit director November 2021
Gathering for dinner and support- quarterly $250.00 gift cards provided each time a youth attended)
Christmas dinner and party- Dec. 2021
Launched Love and Luggage website

January- establish 2022 calendar of dates and program
Submit renewal grants Jan 30th GTCF (Smith and Rowles)
Submit grant GTCF- Lovell- March 1st to support gatherings and social needs for mental health
Develop and advisory group to meet 3 x a year
Meet with Association of Mortgage Bankers
Donor mailing fund raiser for operational support
Fund raiser to restock pantry- Easter 2022/Amazon
6/8/22/ - Graduation class of 2022

Power of partnering

Sarah and Jim Otis, 1311 River Road, Maumee, Ohio 43537
ssotis@bex.net 419/283-4298



Partners with Love and Luggage


The youth that we serve have been handed “hand-me” downs most of their lives. They have often had to take what’s left over or left behind as they’ve been in foster care.

We can and must change this. #nomoreblackbags


Although a generous offer, we don’t and can’t accept used luggage.

On principle, the youth we love on deserve new! When we went off to college and beyond,
we received new bedding, new items for our college dorms, new, new, new. Today, regardless
of the next steps in these young people’s journey, they DESERVE new!

Cleanliness and allergies: Advised by the good folks at Lucas County Children Services’
Independent Living department, we have chosen to provide a Fila 27inch rolling duffle bag.
This provides the youth with a sturdy suitcase/luggage to shop in the pantry with and then
take with them to use as they continue their journey.



In addition to providing our emancipated youth with a new piece of luggage, in cooporation with the Food Pantry at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Maumee, we help them fill it with the essentials they will need for daily living.

Below is a link to the list of items we need to replenish the pantry:

If you want to shop on-line the link below will take you directly to our Amazon Market Basket

River Road Inn Sweets- Helping Fund Love and Luggage

In May of 2021, we opened an Airbnb in our home in Maumee, Ohio. The plan is to help “fill” our large home (empty nesters) and we enjoy traveling using Airbnb’s. A percentage of the revenue from the Airbnb will be used to help offset some of the expenses related to Love and Luggage. The listing is found at:


We welcome referrals and offer a friends and family discount.


Meeting Dates for 2022 for participants of Love and Luggage

2/25/22     5-7 p.m.    Topic: Building your own business-Marketplace Ninja's

4/22/22     5-7 p.m.    Topic: Building your own financial plan-Budgets, banking and saving
                                    (Amy Brentlinger from Capital Mortgage)

6/8/22                         Graduation for the class of 2022/ 3-5 p.m. - New Class Only

7/22/22     5-7 p.m.    Topic: Welcome new class of 2022 and "lessons we've learned"
                                    from class of 2021 @ Metropark TBD

8/19/22     5-7 p.m.    Topic: Cooking quick and healthy meals/how to read nutrition labels

10/14/22    5-7 p.m.    Topic – Open- Your choice!

12/9/22     5-8 p.m.    Christmas Party

Location: First Presbyterian Church, 200 E Broadway, Maumee, OH unless otherwise notified.
Sarah and Jim Otis    ssotis@bex.net    419/283-4298    https://www.loveandluggage.org/


Greater Toledo Community Foundation -
Bill Rowles Youth Foundation Fund Award

The Greater Toledo Community Foundation Award - Bill Rowles Youth Foundation Fund supports programs that enhance the lives of young people under the age of 21.

Please Click the Link Below to Read the Program Information:


Youth in Philanthropy Encouraging Excellence (YIPEE)

Please Click the Link Below to Read the Program Information:


SLUHAN Family Scholarship

The SLUHAN Family Schollarship is for any emancipated youth for trade school or any accredited program

Please Click the Link Below to Read the Program Information:


Class of 2022 Graduation
     1-3 p.m. tentatively

The LCCS emancipation/graduation class of 2022 will be hosted on 6/8/2022 at First Presbyterian Church, Maumee) for their Love and Luggage distribution and congratulations reception.

We will be blessing 15 youth this year! Love and Luggage will be meeting these young people for the first time on 6/8 and we will need to provide for their independent needs as they assume new apartments, head off to college or create new paths for themselves.

The need
    1. Restocking the Love and Luggage Pantry by shopping the AMAZON Wishlist:

    2. Providing cake and beverages for the June 8th reception
    3. Attend as an adult who cares about these youth- join us!
    4. Provide groceries/or pantry hosts at St. Paul’s Episcopal Under One Roof Pantry


Love and Luggage chosen as 2022 charity by The Mortgage Bankers Association of Northwest Ohio

Throughout 2022, the MBANWO will be raising funds to support Love and Luggage. Each year the MBANWO supports and sponsors a local charity through out the year, with all proceeds going towards that charity. The Association’s banquet will be held on 2/22/222 at Premiere Banquet Hall where the founders of Love and Luggage will be introduced as the 2022 Charity. The MBANWO meet monthly and will be receiving updates on the work of Love and Luggage. Thank you MBANWO for your support and we look forward to a great 2022 year.


Field of Interest and Unrestricted Funds Increase the Power of Giving (GTCF/Foundation Matters, 2021

The financial support of area nonprofits that assist with foster care, adoption, aging out of the foster care system and housing for emancipated youth in northwest Ohio is a great example of the power of unrestricted and field of interest funds.

Please Click the Link Below to Read the Entire Article:


Donation Drive Kicks Off for Young Adults Leaving Foster Care (Maumee Mirror, 2021)

Please Click the Link Below to Read the Entire Article in the Mirror:


How does the Lucas County Children Services help our youth that are aging out of our foster care system?

Please click the link below to see this important article:




Volunteer Inquiry:

I am interested in helping with Love and Luggage in these areas:

    Shop On-Line to Help Fill Our Pantry

Please Click The Check Box I'm Not A Robot:

You will receive a copy of your Volunteer Inquiry form at the email address you specified above!