After spending nearly her entire childhood in the foster care system, one Harlingen woman has turned her pain into strength to make a difference.

In April, Jenn Conde founded the non-profit, Suitcases for Kids. With it, she creates travel bags for foster children, who more times than not, carry everything they own in a trash bag. It’s something Conde is all too familiar with. 

“You kind of lose your dignity having everything you own in a bag,” Conde said.

Conde teams up with Upbring Foster in Texas, located in Harlingen. The state agency works to place abused and neglected children in a good home. The agency works with Conde and provides her with a list of children in need. Through donations, she is able to fill suitcases with blankets, toys, journals and hygiene kits. Conde finishes it off by adding their name to personalize it just for them. 

“To me, it’s been a blessing in my own healing journey being able to give back and make sure that foster kids now feel that love,” said Conde. 

In the past several months, she’s been able to provide suitcases for 56 children. 

“It’s her way of giving back to the community because she herself has lived it so she can feel it and give with much more love,” said Noemi Farias with Upbring Foster in Texas. 

With love and compassion behind the project, it’s just the beginning of Conde’s journey in being an advocate for children in foster care. 

“A suitcase doesn’t change all the problems,” Conde said. “It doesn’t make everything okay in the foster care system, but I feel like it’s just that one little step that is a hope to a better future for these children.”

If you would like to donate to Suitcases for Kids, you can drop off items at Upbring Foster in Texas, located at 310 N. Ed Carey Dr. #A, Harlingen, TX. 

If you have someone you would like to highlight for their acts of kindness in our ‘Hometown Heroes’ segment, email Nicole Hickl at or contact her through Facebook.