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, including many families with young children in the Los Angeles school districts. The goal of the drive is to raise funds for 300 backpacks to be donated to 300 children in the Pasadena area.
Socorro Naranjo Rocha and Eric Alvarez, managers and coordinators at Pasadena Families in Transition, say the organization’s goal is for “all homeless students within Pasadena Unified to receive the same equitable and high-quality education experience as their permanently housed peers.” The organization aims to ensure students experiencing homelessness are enrolled without any obstacles, and are prepared to learn despite their living situation.
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. “Partnerships with community agencies and nonprofit organizations allow us to meet the needs that we couldn’t otherwise, due to funding restrictions,” say Rocha and Alvarez, adding that through backpack drives and other outreach the community can invest in the education of the future leaders in our community. “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. With Sydney Paige, for every backpack that you buy, a matching backpack filled with school supplies is given to a child in need within the Pasadena area. “The top reasons for kids dropping out of school are simply lack of confidence and the lack of tools to do their work,” says Courtney Brockmeyer, founder and CEO of the backpack company. “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, a student at Flintridge Prep and the kick-starter of the backpack drive 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. 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. 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, another Prep student helping with the drive, says she got involved because it was an opportunity to become more involved in the community and help people in need. “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,” says Scott. “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.”
Backpacks are available for sale at the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 1010 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, as well as online at www.sydneypaigeinc.com/FlintPrep. The final compilation and donation of these backpacks and supplies will happen Thanksgiving day, when Pasadena Families in Transition comes together for a meal at the Pasadena Sandwich company.