Area Students Ready to 'Carry' the Love Language Project

Front Row (left to right): Roshni Edular, Shreya Patel, Dakota Davenport, Madeline Duvall, Briana Aguilar, Anthony Castillo, Sommer Harkins. Back Row Tiffany Jehorek, Desiree' Fleming, Kaylee Gleason, Bishop Williams, Daisy Jehorek, Hannah Gossage, Pilar McLemore. Not Pictured Ella Freeman, Chloe Liebengood

The Longview Museum of Fine Arts, in cooperation with area junior and senior high school art department students, present each spring a collection of “Love Luggage” to Buckner Children and Family Services of East Texas in honor of May's National Foster Care Month. These hard shell suitcases are custom painted and made especially for East Texas children who enter the foster care system and have nothing to keep their belongings in.

The students who participate are called the Student Board. The Student Board is selected by local art teachers to serve the museum during the school year, helping with the Love Luggage project for Buckner Ministries, Breakfast with Santa, the annual high school student invitational and other activities throughout the year. The students also help during the summer, assisting with elementary art classes and answering the phone, serving as greeters.

Begun in 2003, a group of Pine Tree Junior High and Senior High School students got the idea from a story in Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul, which told about foster children having to carry their belongings in trash bags feeling bad and standing out in a negative way. Vickie Echols, a Longview Museum of Fine Arts board member, began the project in conjunction with Buckner Children & Family Services to raise public awareness of children currently under foster care in the state of Texas by bringing more opportunities of art expression and appreciation to the children of East  Texas.

Since then, suitcases have been painted and delivered to the museum and put on display during the spring High School Student Invitational. Afterward, suitcases are delivered to the employees of Buckner for dispersal. Sponsors have been Jayne Bigony Insurance, Dr. and Mrs. Robert B. Echols of Kilgore, Bill and Sandi Taylor, and Craig K. King, MD. Their donations went to cover the paint and supplies for the suitcases, with an proceeds going toward the development of ArtWorks: Creative Learning Center. LMFA accepts donations of hard sided suitcases throughout the year and saves them for school art students who wish to participate.

“This project has been a joy for everyone involved,” said Renee Hawkins, executive director of Longview Museum of Fine Arts. “We display the luggage in the spring in our main window to bring awareness to the community as to what local students are doing to help their peers."

Anyone person or business wishing to become a sponsor of this project may contact the museum at 903.753.8103 or contact Those wishing to donate hard sided suitcases may do so any time by dropping them by the museum at 215 East Tyler Street, Longview, TX.

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