Published : Friday, October 30, 2015 | 3:44 PM
This fall, Flintridge Prep students are hosting a Community Backpack Drive, to support the children who are part of Pasadena Families in Transition, an organization within the Pasadena Unified School District. In a recent homeless population count done in the city of Los Angeles, there were 4,727 homeless individuals in the San Gabriel Valley alone, many of which include families with young children in the Los Angeles school districts. The goal of the drive is to raise, community wide, 300 backpacks to be donated to 300 children in the Pasadena area.
The Pasadena Families in Transition is an organization that, daily, addresses the issues of homelessness in our community, and assists these families. Socorro Naranjo Rocha and Eric Alvarez, managers and coordinators at the Pasadena Families in Transition say their core values and goals are for “all homeless students within Pasadena Unified to receive the same equitable and high quality education experience as their permanently housed peers.” They continue, “We aim to ensure homeless students are enrolled without any obstacles and are prepared to learn despite their living situation”. This organization attends to problems within the immediate community, as “all school age children must attend school regardless of their living situation according to federal law”. Because of Families in Transition, there exists help to “make the education experience of homeless students as least stressful as possible”. Without Families in Transition, many homeless students would find themselves ‘lost in the education system without any advocacy or they simply would not attend school”. The two state that “partnerships with community agencies and non-profit organizations allow us to meet the needs that we couldn’t otherwise, due to funding restrictions.” It is through backpack drives, and other collective outreaches that the community can personally invest in the education of the future leaders in our community. They add, “You never know if you are helping the future President of the United States when he or she was in a homeless situation during school!”
The backpacks in the drive are provided by Sydney Paige® Inc., a company with a “buy-one, give-one” business model, similar to Toms Shoes, and Warby Parker Glasses. With Sydney Paige® , for every backpack that you buy, a matching backpack, filled completely with school supplies, is given to a child in need within the Pasadena area. Courtney Brockmeyer, founder & CEO of the backpack company, states, “The top reasons for kids dropping out of school are simply lack of confidence and the lack of tools to do their work. By providing underserved children with new, high quality backpacks and the supplies they need, we are providing them with a foundation to learn and thrive in school.”
Jenna Colliflower (‘16), a Prep student, and the “kick-starter” of the backpack drive within the Prep community says she involved herself in this drive, because “it was an opportunity to help the community, which is something that I am incredibly passionate about”. She continues, “it benefits the homeless children in the Pasadena area, which (surprisingly) is a large number of people, whom I already spend time with on a weekly basis at Door of Hope.” In conclusion, she adds “I am so privileged to go to a school that provides me with endless opportunities in the realm of education, leadership, and athletics, and therefore I want every child to have those same opportunities that I have; a backpack filled with school supplies is a big step in the right direction.” Willow Scott (’17), another Prep student helping with the drive says she got involved because it “was an opportunity for me to become more involved in my community and help people around me in need.” She continues, “what convinced me completely was my first meeting with Ms. Wohlstetter, a member of the Sydney Paige Inc. team. With everything she said about the cause, her passion was obvious and infectious.” In addition she says “I’ve found this to be true with everyone I’ve worked with on this drive so far, which is a huge part of what has made this such a great experience.”
The final compilation and donation of these backpacks and supplies to children in need will happen on Thanksgiving day, when Pasadena Families in Transition come together for a meal at the Pasadena Sandwich company.
Backpacks are available for sale at the Flintridge Bookstore on Foothill Boulvard, as well as online at www.sydneypaigeinc.com/FlintPrep. You also have the option of supporting this effort by donating the backpack you purchase as well. Then the kids get 2 backpacks!
Flintridge Preparatory School, 4543 Crown Avenue, La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-1178 or visit www.flintridgeprep.org.