A couple of conversations with relatives sparked my interest recently.

A couple of conversations with relatives sparked my interest recently.
Marilyn, a niece who lives in Idaho, told me she was going to teach a two-day class on basic cooking. She called it a class on "Cooking With the American Spirit." The class was for middle school aged foster kids.
She said, "I worry about these kids who have been thrown aside many times, and who have been taught no basic life skills."
My niece is heavily involved in the American Legion Auxiliary, so that's why she is putting the word America in the name of the class. She also has a degree in "home economics," is a mother and has a successful catering business.
When Marilyn told me this, I was very proud of her interest in foster kids.
Well, would you believe, the very next day I was on the phone with my sister June, who lives in suburban Atlanta, and she brought up the topic of foster kids.
She told about a "suitcase drive" that was held in their community. Everyone was encouraged to dig in a back closet or in the attic or basement and find a suitcase that was no longer used by the family. They were asked to clean it up and donate it,
June said there were a number of mattress stores in town, and all were accepting the suitcases.
Eventually the suitcases were then given to foster kids. June explained that so often kids are dragged from home to home and have nothing but a large garbage bag to haul their things into and out of the houses.
It was surmised that having a suitcase allowed the kids to have a little more dignity in a sometimes very rough life.
Both of these projects sounded very worthy. I can't teach kids nutrition or kitchen hygiene or how to cook, but I bet I could find a suitcase or a nice duffle bag for a kid.
I hope some of these efforts for foster kids will catch on at other places. These kids need all the support and love they can get. Who knows, maybe having their very own suitcase or duffle bag would make a difference in their life.
Lana Henry, from the Carver Monument, sent something that I want to share. It is a tale of an enslaved man named Robert Smalls. In 1862 he freed himself and his family by commandeering a Confederate transport ship. He navigated it through Confederate water and turned it over to the US Navy. After the war, he purchased his master's old house, won election to the South Carolina State legislature, served five terms as a Congressman in the US House of Representatives and helped rewrite South Carolina's constitution.
This is a good example of someone who also got a rough start in life, but did very well in the end.

Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.