A major problem on the SouthCoast that too often goes undetected is a problem with teenaged homelessness. For a variety of different reasons, there are hundreds of New Bedford teens that use the practice of "couch surfing." Instead of living in a stable home, these teens bounce from one friend or relative's home to another, carrying only their essentials with them.

Many times, these children travel from one location to another stuffing their clothes and belongings into black trash bags. When the Friends of Jack Foundation heard about this problem, they knew they needed to do something to help.

They reached out to New Bedford Child and Family Services to arrange a donation of 500 duffle bags. Instead of using trash bags to carry their life to the next couch, they will finally have a nice duffle bag of their own. While the situation is still less than ideal, it helps boost the self-worth of some of the children.

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"Children going through the system are already facing a number of hardships," said Jill Fearons, Executive Director of the Friends of Jack Foundation. "We hope that these duffle bags are a reminder to these kids that they (and their belongings) matter. That there are a number of people out there that care about them."

On Tuesday, the Friends of Jack delivered the duffle bags to New Bedford Child and Family Services. Inside the bags were toiletry items such as toothbrushes (donated by Drs. Peter and John Veale and Dartmouth Dental), toothpaste, socks, and feminine products.

Courtesy of the Friends of Jack Foundation
Courtesy of the Friends of Jack Foundation

While the 500 duffle bags are a welcome donation, it will not cover every homeless child in the city, unfortunately.

"This has been a particularly tough year for this," Fearons said. "The number of affected children is up."

Those who'd like to make a donation to the Friends of Jack Foundation can find out more information on FriendsOfJack.org.

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