Donations to ACC’s annual Foster Care Luggage Drive have been slow this year. The goal is to raise $3,000 and 60 pieces of luggage. As of May 28, $1,458 and 25 pieces of luggage have been donated.

Read Shilda’s story and learn how you can help our students aging out of foster care get a fresh, dignified start.

For Austin Community College District (ACC) student Shilda Fresch, life wasn’t easy. Shilda grew up in the foster system. 

Now, a mother herself, she wants to provide a better life for her family. It’s what keeps her moving forward.

“My children inspire me every day. I strive to create opportunities for them to become their best versions.”

Shilda knows firsthand how small, simple things can make a significant and lasting impact. She recalls her time in the foster care system — when she would have to move from one home to another. 

“When I was moving from home to home in foster care, all I was given was a brown paper bag or a trash bag. That made me feel like trash because not only did I have to move, but I was given something trash goes in.”

When Shilda aged out, she found herself without the support to move forward. 

“While in foster care, I was fortunate to have a wonderful family. However, transitioning out of foster care was daunting because I no longer had the support of my caseworker, foster mother, teachers, and attorney. I had to find my way.”

To provide youth like Shilda with a fresh start, Austin Community College District supports the annual Foster Care Luggage Drive. Donations are accepted throughout May and delivered to ACC students aging out of foster care.

“Having luggage is a big deal. If I had proper luggage, my transitions would have been smoother, and I wouldn’t have felt so bad carrying a trash bag around.”

Shilda came to ACC in 2006 and earned her first degree in Radio, Television, and Film in 2022. She is now working toward a degree in Sociology. 

“Loretta Edelen helped me get started, giving me the confidence to keep pushing forward. I chose Austin Community College because it offered me the flexibility and affordability to balance my family responsibilities.”

Preparing to publish her third children’s book, Shilda found her community at ACC through work experience with the college. Currently, she’s an intern for the Office of College Relations & Marketing, supporting community events and the college’s mascot team. 

“The most important experience is participating in the mascot team. It has allowed me to network and build valuable connections within the community.”

Now, Shilda wants to make sure any teen who follows in her footsteps has the same opportunities she was given. 

“Donating is crucial because a single act of kindness can change a life. You never know what obstacles someone might face on their path to success, and lending a helping hand can uplift and inspire others.”

For more information and to donate, visit