GCC’s Multicultural & Community Engagement Center (MCEC) just finished it’s ninth annual “Pack-a-Backpack” drive for homeless children. GCC partnered with the School on Wheels organization. The drive started on July 17 and ran until Sept. 30.
The fundraiser collected everything school supply-related, from laptops to erasers. New backpacks will be stuffed with brand new school supplies and the items will be given to homeless children for the 2019-2020 school year. The School on Wheels organization is responsible for distribution to students.
Nane Kakosian started the GCC chapter with Hoover Zariani, manager of MCEC. Zariani wanted the group to develop something that could be done each year in honor of the National Day of Service and Remembrance, which is Sept. 11. Kakosian opened up about this process with in an El Vaquero interview. “We all shared ideas and decided to help the most vulnerable, our children, and that was how Pack-a-Backpack was started.”
Homeless children are one of the most vulnerable and silent groups in our country. One in every 20 children in California do not have a home. They sleep in motels, cars, or on the street. This type of displacement has been proven to take a toll on every aspect of one’s life, especially someone who is so young. Homeless children are nine times more likely to repeat a grade, and four times more likely to drop out of school, according to School on Wheels.
While the “Pack-a-Backpack” drive is geared towards homeless children in grades K through 12, here at GCC the college has some programs to help students in need. On campus, GCC offers the Food For Thought Pantry, which is open to any currently enrolled GCC student. The pantry is serving students Monday-Thursday. Sign-ups must done the morning you’d like to receive groceries. Students can sign upon the third floor of the Sierra Vista building at the Job Placement center. Pantry hours can be found on the GCC website or through this redirect link: bit.ly/FoodPantryGCC
Also on the website, the college provides information about other local food pantries, free legal services for low-income people, and how to apply for general relief or food stamps.
If you’d like to donate to the School on Wheels organization, visit their website at: schoolonwheels.org
The organization seeks to help homeless students with tutoring, scholarships, and more.
Natalie Casey can be reached at [email protected]