YWCA Collects “The Other” Items Shelter Kids Need to Start School
When you’re a homeless child, or a child experiencing abuse or trauma at home, going back to school doesn’t have quite the excitement attached to it that other kids experience. There may not be an outing to go buy new school supplies, or a trip to the mall to get a first-day-of-school outfit. The St. Joseph YWCA is working to close that gap, providing a Back to School Fair to make the first day of school exciting for children living in the YWCA Shelter or those served by YWCA programs.
The event, scheduled for August 6 from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature new basic school supplies that will be distributed to children. Unlike other back to school fairs, the St. Joseph YWCA is looking for a variety of items that can help the start of the school year feel more like what other kids experience: new clothes, underwear and socks, hair bows or ties, shoes, backpacks, fun pens or pencils, kids’ hygiene items, calculators, flash cards, books, makeup, lunchboxes, earbuds, fidget spinners and anything else school-related.
Some of these items might not fall in the category of basic school supplies, but they can help children living in trauma to start school with a more positive outlook for their future. Why is it more difficult for children living in trauma to feel like they “fit in” in school? Here are some thoughts to read and share:
It’s difficult to see friends outside of school hours. Due to shifting living situations, it can be difficult for homeless children to extend a friendship outside of school hours. It can be tough to answer questions asked by other students about where they live or if they can come for a visit – and some students living in trauma may feel an even greater sense of isolation.
Birthdays may not feel like a celebration: This may not be something that comes to mind often, but children living in trauma or in a Shelter may not be able to plan an event or a gathering for their birthdays. This can add to feelings of being different from their peers.
They may struggle more in school. It’s harder to keep up with homework and reading when your family moves from house to house and has limited resources. Even if the family has a car, that’s not the same as having a table to spread out and study while you enjoy an afternoon snack.
They suffer numerous small indignities. School events like not having proper shoes for gym or brushing their teeth in the school bathroom can impact children experiencing homelessness at deep levels. They may not have an address where their report card can be mailed, or they may fear that they can’t afford situations like field trip fees. Special project items or supplies are also an ongoing challenge.
The YWCA St. Joseph helps children escaping abuse or trauma year-round. The Shelter provides an immediate safe residence with meals, and the YWCA helps coordinate school transportation. Supported housing at Bliss Manor can help families return to stability after leaving the Shelter. Professional counseling is available to children at the YWCA to open the door for hope – along with connections to other community resources for a new start.
The St. Joseph YWCA knows that starting school should be a fun and exciting time for every student. That’s why we organize this special Back to School Fair. Please join us in this effort by donating the items listed above or with a cash donation, which should be received by August 4. We hope to see you at the Back to School Fair!