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State Honoree

Aubyn Burnside

North Carolina

Aubyn Burnside, 13, of St. Stephens Lutheran School in Hickory, North Carolina, founded Suitcases for Kids, a project which encourages donations of suitcases to children in foster care. When she realized that these children had to put their belongings in trash bags when they move from one foster home to the next, Aubyn dedicated herself to ensuring that every child in foster care would have a suitcase of his or her own. By getting the word out through local newspapers and in Girl Scouts and 4-H newsletter, she started small. The donations and the message grew, and soon Aubyn was speaking at state-wide conferences on her program, and passing out starter kits for other groups to launch Suitcases for Kids in their areas. Because thousands of suitcases have been donated, Aubyn is now enlisting support from trucking companies to transport the excess to areas in need. Aubyn will soon introduce her project in 19 states across the country and plans to make recycling of suitcases as commonplace as recycling glass and plastic.