Helping Children Succeed

Multicultural and Community Engagement Center celebrates their 10th annual Pack-A-Backpack drive


Hayk Rostomyan

GCC’s Pack-A-Backpack Drive was launched in 2008 and is geared toward gathering donations for students.

Running around, playing with friends and having fun is what we think of when we picture children during their elementary years. However, we are not seeing the bigger picture. There are students who don’t get to do this. To some even eating is a hard thing to accomplish. Some live below the poverty line even in wealthy Los Angeles.

There are  more than 1.3 million homeless students in America’s public schools according to This makes it harder for the youth to enjoy their childhood. The main struggles for families is not only feeding their children, but also giving them a good education. That includes tools and resources.

In 2008, Glendale Community College initiated a program called “Pack-A-Backpack Drive.” The motivation behind this drive was the National Day of Service and Remembrance. The staff and student’s main objective  was to honor people that were affected the most by Sept. 11, 2001 by spreading good deeds to all Americans. At the end they realized that children were the most vulnerable and the ones that needed help the most.

Started by the Multicultural and Community Engagement Center, the department was thinking of ways to perform a good deed when the “Pack-A-Backpack” drive arose.

The Pack-A-Backpack drive is to help homeless children get a good education and have less stress about not having the supplies,” said Nane Kakosian, a student services technician.

The drive is partnered with a non profit organization, School on Wheels. It was  inaugurated on April 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired school teacher. Celebrating their 25th anniversary, School on Wheels has opened their first learning center located in Skid Row and also began their first digital learning center.

“Every child needs a champion, a mentor, someone who is there just for them.

Our program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear.” said Catherine Meek, executive director of  School on Wheels. “We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important.  We have hundreds of students waiting for volunteers just like you.  You can help change a child’s life.”

Their main purpose is to help youth with all the necessary materials they need to learn. Not only do they need donations like backpacks, notebooks or pencils, but they also need tutors.The organization also has a scholarship, which helps a homeless student get exceptional education.

“Every little bit can make a huge impact on a child’s life,” Kakosian said. “A lot of times we don’t think that there are people that have much less than we do and we just walk by in our own little bubble realizing people out there just need a little push of help.”

The Multicultural & Community Engagement center is accepting donations for backpacks, colors, pencils and more. The only requirement is that they should be brand new supplies. Contributors can donate school supplies or gift cards from stores that sells supplies. Donations are accepted until Sept. 28.

To help in other ways, email School on Wheels at [email protected] or visit their website at