While most teenagers spend their free time hanging out with friends, going to movies, or playing video games, 17-year-old Trinity Classical Academy Senior, Julian Sotelo, was helping teenagers in the foster care system. There are over 28,000 kids residing in foster care in Los Angeles County today. Many people are unaware that when these kids are placed in foster care, they’re not given much time to pack belongings and often have to carry these items in a black trash bag. Julian found this situation unacceptable. “These kids deserve better than that”, stated Julian. “Carrying your belongings in a black trash bag sends the message to the kids that they’re worthless”. Julian had firsthand experience, when his little sister was placed in his home from foster care. It left an impression on him. He stated,” When I saw her she had a small plastic bag with just a few diapers and one bottle, I thought this was sad and not right.” Over 200 hours went into the planning of this project. He teamed up with an organization called Hope in a Suitcase. This nonprofit provides suitcases and duffel bags filled with personal items for kids in foster care. He focused on teenagers, because Julian stated that they’re the age group that is moved around the most and are often overlooked.
This Boy Scout from Troop 583 Castaic California, spent the last year and a half fund raising, organizing and executing his Eagle Service Project. Julian received donations from local business such as Jersey Mike’s, Coffee Tea and Bean, Go Dental, Valencia Children’s Dental Group, Church of Hope. With all donations and funds received from family and friends, on July 1, 2017, he led his troop in a large-scale duffel bag packing event. Each bag contains 1 pair of sweat pants, one t-shirt, sweat shirt, socks, toiletry kit, tooth brush kit, journal and teddy bear. They completed 100 duffel bags for teens in foster care system.
Julian was featured on Channel 7 Eyewitness News and was nominated for their “Cool Kid” scholarship. His Eagle Project has been nominated for project of the year. Julian was humbled by the all the attention, but simply said, “I just want to help the kids”. “If one of my duffel bags can comfort one teen’s life, then my project has been a success”.