Backpacks or similar bags are de rigueur for school students, no matter what grade. There are always trends in terms of what’s a cool bag, but for many youth – a durable bag that functions is pretty much what they want.
So I have this blue backpack that I purchased in August 1998 for grad school. I probably bought it at a sporting goods store, but I’m not sure. It is a bit rugged and outdoorsy with all these extra snaps and slings and strings and pockets. I put it to good use commuting to Oakland from West Mifflin with books and supplies for 3 or 4 seminars at a time securely stowed in that bag.
16 years later, I still have the bag and still use it. The only significant wear is a little tear on one shoulder strap. Right now, it is filled with beads and swag from a recent festival we attended. I also found a $10 bill tucked into a pocket (ice cream!) and I’m sure I have assorted things like hand sanitizer, hair scrunchies and extra napkins somewhere. The bag has been with me on most of my adventures and travels. And it is fair to say that whatever I paid for it (I’m sure less than $30), it was a good investment.
When I school supplies in the store, I think of this bag and how much I appreciate having it. I don’t have any distinct memories of buying school supplies as a youth except for the terror of finding the exact 5 subject (college ruled) that Mr. Gentile demanded we bring to Geometry. I think I had a backpack in high school, but I don’t remember honestly.
The kids who do remember are those who go without. Many of those kids are part of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center’s Youth programming. Some are not supported by their families so they don’t have enough resources to meet their needs. Others have dropped out of school, often because they are homeless, and the funds to purchase supplies to return are non-existent. Many back to school drives focus on elementary aged children, whereas the GLCC is working with youth ages 13-24. Our students are in traditional schools, working on GED’s, putting themselves through college while working FT and more.
What they have in common are the struggles all LBGTQ youth face and the support they receive from the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh.
Last year, several groups held collections and donations arrived from hither and yon to help the youth head back to school. This year, the GLCC hopes to help 30-50 young people with their back to school needs.
You can invest in the education of our young people in several ways
- Donate items to the GLCC directly
- Shop online using the GLCC Amazon Wish List which ships directly to the Community Center.
- Add a school supply collection to an upcoming event – a meeting, book club, party or even put out a collection box in your place of business.