BY CLOVER STERLING
Students in Peel can put their best foot forward for the coming school year, via a new initiative that seeks to help low-income families in the region. Black Lives for Change has collaborated with Foot Locker for a back-to-school initiative, starting this Friday (Aug. 27) through to Sunday, Aug. 29 at its community store in Toronto.
The organization, which was formed in June of last year, is already making waves in the community via its quest to provide back to school essentials for black youth from low-income families.
The organization has two initiatives to help students going back to school, including a “Fill and Fulfill” backpack drive, which aims to raise $5000 to assemble 50 to 75 brand new backpacks which will be filled with school supplies also school related items and a gift card.
“We will take those backpacks and deliver them to students who come from low-income families across the GTA,” said the organization’s cofounder, Yonathan Kristos earlier this week, noting that the recipients are selected based on people’s recommendation, community training groups and schools.
The Back-to-School Drive will see representatives from the organization collect gently used school supplies at the Foot Locker Community store, located at 306 Yonge Street in Toronto, The organization has also reached out to school boards in York, Toronto and Peel Region to help with the distribution of the supplies for the Back to School Drive. All donations collected at the event will go directly to schools, who then will distribute to students who either don’t have or are low on school supplies by the start of in-person classes in September.
“We are trying to finalize the list of students and are selecting those who have financial barriers. “ Kristof told Peel Weekly News. The organizers behind the initiative envision it as a yearly event to provide for low-income families and help support students during a challenging time.
“This is our first Back to School Drive, but we want to continue to do it because we are a new group… a lot of the things we are doing are for the first time base,” said co-founder Efia Tekyi- Annan, who noted that the organization has had success with several different initiatives, such as a holiday food drive that will be held again this Christmas. “Our community is being very supportive of us, and so we are excited to continue to bring them these things back year after year after year,” said Tekyi-Annan, noting that their hope is to partner with large companies in order to help as many people as possible.
In addition to the Back to School Drive, The Brampton Literacy Centre and the Therapy Table will be donating their services by way of gift vouchers. Patrons who attend the event this weekend and make a donation of supplies or a monetary contribution will have their names entered in a raffle for a chance to win a counselling session with the Therapy Table or a tutoring session with Brampton Literacy Centre.
Shanna-Kay Stephens, CEO of the Therapy Table in Brampton, said it is a call to action. “By donating vouchers to this event, we are bettering the lives of people… as systemic changes grow, (people) are weighed down waiting for change to happen, and then it impacts your mental health.
That is how we are able to help get past the sadness — by giving people some tools to help navigate through society,” Stephens said. The event runs from 12 – 7 p.m. on Aug. 27 and 28, and 12 – 5 p.m. on Aug. 29. For more information, visit facebook.com/Black-li ves-for-change- 105651241195114.