When Vanessa West, a member of SpareFoot’s Amazing Customer Experience (ACE) Team, read an online article about foster kids, it inspired her to take action. The article, “The Trash Bag Kids,” delves into the life of a typical foster child.
“It touched my heart, because I was once a homeless teen mother, and I know what it’s like to come from nothing and have nothing of your own,” West said. (West is pictured at top with fellow SpareFooter Amelia Oliver and Jake Millward’s dog, Freddie).
To help youths and young adults in our hometown of Austin, TX, who have nothing of their own, West and other SpareFeet organized SpareFoot’s first-ever ‘Operation Swag Bag’.
Employees of SpareFoot collected nearly $1,000 this holiday season to buy “swag” such as hats, mittens, fleece blankets, ear buds, pens, reusable water bottles, journals and sketchpads. SpareFeet delivered the bags of swag Dec. 22 to the Street Outreach program operated by Austin’s LifeWorks Youth & Family Alliance.
SpareFoot’s Amy Hurd picks out blankets for the swag bags.
“We were able to give back to the community—to the forgotten kids and maybe to future SpareFooters,” West said.
West said it was “truly heartwarming” to see SpareFeet pitch in to help youths and young adults in Austin who are living on the streets.
“The love that was put into this was remarkable,” she said. “The way the team was able to come together so quickly showed their commitment to the community.”
SpareFoot’s Vanessa West helps deliver the swag bags to LifeWorks.
For West, Operation Swag Bag made her holiday season feel complete.
“I remember feeling so lost in the big world as a teen mom, and if wasn’t for programs like LifeWorks, I don’t know where I would be. These programs literally saved my life and the life of my child,” she said.
For information about donating money or goods to LifeWorks, visit their donations page at www.lifeworksaustin.org/donate.html.
Photos by Amanda Hartfield