Fantasia Fryer believes everyone deserves the dignity that comes with having functional luggage.
Now, thanks to a Brooklyn Community Foundation grant, the Cobble Hill 23-year-old will be able to help more people in her community get off to a “great start.”
Fryer was a winner of the foundation’s Youth Voice Awards that celebrate youth activists working towards radical change in Brooklyn. At the ceremony, which was held virtually on June 27, Fryer was awarded a $2,000 grant for her luggage non-profit Building a Great Start .
Fryer will use the prize money to jump-start her luggage assistance organization, aptly dubbed BAGS. The BAGS mission is to help people in difficult situations acquire luggage to make life easier.
According to BCF, 20 youth activists nominated Fryer because her project addressed systemic injustice, exacerbated by COVID-19, through an innovative solution.
For Fryer, the project is personal.
“I have been the kid who walked into school with a tattered bag or a free bag that only lasted to the middle of the year,” she said.
“I know from experience how important luggage can be, especially when you’re in transitional housing, homeless or even if you’re just getting to college and not having proper luggage to start your new life with.”
Two months ago, Fryer and her mother and co-founder, Chasity Fryer, realized there was a gap to fill in the non-profit world. Organizations covered shelter, food and clothing, but until now, there was no group providing the dignity that comes with owning functional luggage.
When remembering an encounter with someone who had just aged out of foster care, Fryer recalled the lack of respect for the 18-year-old’s personal possessions.
“They dropped her off at the shelter with nothing but a trash bag full of her belongings,” Fryer said.
“It does not matter who you are or where you are going, everyone should have access to good luggage.”
Team BAGS is hosting its first socially-distanced event on September 5, in the Downtown Brooklyn area. At the event, the team will hand out free and new suitcases, backpacks, duffle bags, push-carts and more. BAGS will announce the location of the event on its website when the date draws near.
“After the event, we plan on fundraising,” Fryer said. “This is such a new project so we need to focus on getting as many bags in, and out, as possible.”
BAGS is accepting donations through its website, as well as contributions of new or gently used items by reaching out to the founders over email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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