The Eastern Mennonite University field hockey team raised more than $1,200 to purchase 40 "Sweet Cases" for foster children through the nonprofit organization Together We Rise. They decorated the duffel bags, filled them with items, and returned them to the organization for dispersal. The project had special meaning for top fundraiser Bri Miller, who is adopted. (Photos by Ashley Kisner)

Field hockey team preps ‘Sweet Cases’ for foster children

It’s too often a sobering reality: When children move into a foster care home, they have to transport their belongings in trash bags.

Senior Mikayla Martin, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a bag she decorated for a field hockey service project.

Eastern Mennonite University freshman field hockey player Bri Miller says that although she’s never been in foster care, she is adopted, and so a fundraiser held recently by the team had special meaning for her.

“It kind of hit home,” she said, “just because I realize that not a lot of people pay attention to foster kids in the system. I made this my personal mission.”

Through Together We Rise, a nonprofit organization that helps improve the lives of foster children, the team raised funds to purchase “Sweet Cases.”

Each duffel bag contains a blanket, coloring book, crayons, and hygiene kit. After volunteer groups prepare and decorate the bags, they are returned for distribution to children in foster care.

The team’s goal was to raise enough money for 17 bags — but they ended up with over $1,200, more than enough for 40 bags, which they decorated last week. As for Miller’s efforts? She was responsible for over a third of the team’s take.

The team solicited donations for the project, and dedicated a game at which people could make pledges of support. The goalie’s parents, for example, donated $5 for every save.

“That was our best game as a team,” Miller said. “We didn’t win, but it was definitely a good game.” The fundraiser aspect, she said, “made it ten times better.”

From left: Field hockey team members Kelsey Troyer, Madeline Mast, Emily Augsburger, Lauren Hartzler, Clover Cooper, Emily Price and Bri Miller decorate bags.

Miller did not expect to attend EMU, yet has found a home here.

“Bri is a great example of a student who unexpectedly finds EMU and then experiences it as ‘home,’” said Coach Ashley Kisner. “Many student-athletes have no idea of what EMU is like until they come to visit, and then they love it.”

Miller is studying business administration. EMU was “not her top college choice by any means,” she said. It was too far — over three hours — from her Gloucester, Virginia, home, and she doesn’t like cold.

Even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to play field hockey in college, EMU was out to recruit her, and she decided to visit the campus.

“I decided, ‘Let me just visit,’” she said. “You know, how hard can a visit be?”

So, she did: “As soon as I got here — I didn’t even get out of the car yet — I said, ‘This feels like home. I’m coming here,’” she said. “I’d never had that feeling, even with my top three other choices. I talked with the coach, and I was just like, ‘Yep.’ So I committed that day, the first time I was here.”

Discussion on “Field hockey team preps ‘Sweet Cases’ for foster children

  1. Great endeavor. Harrisonburg/Rockingham County, Virginia, has had the highest rate of placement of children in foster care in the commonwealth. This is a tangible bridge to build deeper connections to these needs in the community with a campus community rooted in programs addressing trauma and transformative healing. You also graduate some great foster care social workers and child advocates.

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