Ask anyone in the world of comedy about Tiffany Haddish and they'll tell you her "overnight success" was a long time coming. From hitting comedy club after comedy club to seeking advice from and rubbing elbows with successful talents (like Kevin Hart) Haddish was constantly working on herself and developing her talent. So when she landed the role of Dina in Girls Trip, she bit down on it and never let go.
People were in love with the comedian and from there the offers kept rolling in - she was able to not only establish a viable career and become a household name, but she was also in a way able to rewrite her past.
Tiffany's mother was involved in a horrific car accident that put her head through a windshield, forcing the woman how to talk, walk, and eat by herself all over again.
This put Haddish in the unenviable position of being an instant mother to her four young siblings at only 9 years old.
Unfortunately even after her mother was rehabilitated, the accident had completely altered her demeanor, and Tiffany had asked to move away from her as she became "very violent and verbally abusive" the star revealed in an interview with David Letterman.
"You never knew who she was going to be; I was begging my mom to [let me] go live with my grandma," she continued. As a result, when she was 12 years old, she and all of her siblings were placed in the foster care system, something she called "the worst feeling in the world."
"You're dropped in these strangers' houses, you don't know these people, these people don't know you, you don't know if they're gonna hurt you, if they're gonna be kind, you don't have a clue what's going on."
One ultimate symbol that summed up exactly how she felt about her situation was a trash bag: the fact that she was placing her belongings in a bag meant for refuse made her feel even worse about living in foster care. However, with a suitcase, Haddish says she felt like "a traveler."
Haddish stated, "[It was] like I had a purpose, like I'm a person like I'm not garbage, I got this — it's mine, and my things are in here, and wherever I go I can take this with me and I'm going somewhere."
When Shanell Manuel learned of Haddish's upbringing, the actress's mention of trash bags resonated with her. Manuel is a foster care specialist supervisor for Lake County with the Indiana Department of Child Services and she told the NWI Times: "I've been in this agency for 18 years. I have been taking children out of homes and moving them to other homes, and when I see those garbage bags. It's unfortunate that we still have to do that."
So she reached out to Tiffany's She Ready Foundation, whose mission is to "protect, provide resources, and ensure normalcy for foster children."
Manuel thought what better way to do that for the children under her care than to get them suitcases? It was such an important part of Haddish's own maturation process, so why not give other kids the same opportunity to feel better about their situations?
So Manuel did just that, she asked the actress' foundation to donate 100 suitcases for the kids in her care, helping to make Christmas extra special for the children she assists.
The luggage haul helped to round out the holiday gifts provided to some 400 separate kids in Lake County thanks to DCS workers.
Ellis Dumas, Lake County's Regional Manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services stated "(The) suitcases were one aspect of it [The Christmas celebration], for our older youth. Often, it's hard to buy gifts for teenagers in general. So to be able to give them something that they're going to be tangibly using is always phenomenal and awesome — Miss Haddish made that possible."
The gifts were distributed to children on December 19, 2020, during Lake County's DCS Christmas event. It wasn't the first time Haddish has donated copious amounts of suitcases to those in need.
The Villages Foster Care Adoption service posted on its Facebook page in October of 2019 that the actress had given them 95 pieces of luggage for their children.