SAN MARCOS, Texas– A former foster child abused and bounced between homes and shelters has a new home and new support group.
Off to college, Chante Powell moved with an SUV full of brand-new stuff donated by strangers. People who heard her story sent luggage, clothes, two laptops, a printer, mini-refrigerator and an iPhone 5.
New doors opened too. People like Diane Cobert have embraced Powell and are giving the 18-year-old something she's never had.
"Love," said Powell. "Knowing there is someone out there who cares for me, before this, I didn't have that at all."
We met Powell in May. She was celebrating graduation from Alvin High School. Powell grew up abused, living in foster homes and shelters while working toward college. She often wondered how or if she'd make it, but then Cobert called.
"(It's) because I want to see her succeed," said Cobert. "She's a bright, bright, bright young lady. She's a beautiful young lady. She deserves to succeed."
Twice, Cobert drove Powell nearly three hours to San Marcos. Once was for freshman orientation. The second time was an escape.
"It means a lot to me," said Powell.
At Texas State University, former foster kid enrollment is up nearly 40 percent since 2010 -- 51 enrolled fall semester that year. In 2013, 84 were admitted. Meanwhile, demand for beds during breaks, when students like Powell who have no home to visit, is up. In response, the university opened all dorms early for kids in need.
However, it is not free. Without strangers' donations, Chante had no place to stay and no way to college.
"I just feel blessed because there are not too many foster kids fortunate enough to have the support group I have received in the last few months," said Powell.
Cobert and Powell consider each other family. So, like most moms, Cobert plans to visit Chante again and again until graduation.
"I'm excited to see her make something of herself," said Cobert. "I'm hoping when she's rich and famous she comes back and helps my children take care of me."