Oh, August! Summer is beginning to wind down and each store you enter has aisles lined with school supplies. Every flyer you pick up is filled with the newest clothing trends and styles. Sure, there are kids who dread returning to school… But many look forward to seeing their friends and, at the very least, some back to school shopping! Do you remember, each year, that mid-to-late August back to school excitement that began to stir when you were a child?
Do you know what I remember?? I remember, very clearly, that many of my friends were out shopping for trendy new clothes, cool sneakers, and the best brands of backpacks. I remember that I wasn’t. I remember knowing that, as hard as my mother tried, I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with my friends. I wouldn’t have name-brands or even clothes that I liked sometimes. I would have what was least expensive or given to us for free. I would watch my brother be ostracized on the bus for being “a dirt-bag”. I would be insulted by other young girls for wearing knock-offs and “fake Tommy Hilfigure”. And let me tell you, when you’re a 12 year old child, these things hurt. They hurt badly.
The scars of growing up “poor” are still a part of me, to this day. I still struggle, at times, to recognize my worth. I struggle to feel like I am accepted by my peer group. I recently met with a former classmate to promote the organization… and prior to that meeting I experienced anxiety and hesitation. The little girl inside of me, who was desperate to keep the fact that my shirt was picked out of the local food bank donation bin, started to take over my thoughts. As a successful 28 year old woman—I still felt less than. Unworthy. Embarrassed. It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s reality.
Here’s what happens when you’re wearing knock-offs and feeling like you don’t measure up… Your confidence takes a hit. Your self-worth takes a hit. And this has a direct impact on your relationships, your performance at school, your overall attitude. It may prevent you from trying out for a sport, from trying to make new friends. It might discourage you from wanting to attend school in the first place. When you’re a child… the opinions of your peer group play a significant role in forming your opinion of yourself.. therefore… clothes and shoes become really damn important. And, to be honest, what a beautiful thing it would be if the only worry children had was what outfit they’re going to wear to school in the mornings. For some, this is the case! But for many—they’re also worried about the fact that they’re sneakers leak when it rains and they didn’t have enough food in the house for breakfast this morning.
We’re focusing much of our energy on feeding these sweet kids… but we want to fix that little sneaker problem too!
We would LOVE to send some awesome kids back to school next month feeling confident and excited. Feeling loved and valued. We’re desperate to provide them with the opportunity to shop for clothes and items that they like and feel good about having. We don’t want them to experience back to school dread. We don’t want them to be 28 someday… running into a former classmate.. and still feeling like a loser. We need your help to build them up and allow them to embark on a new school year feeling like new kids! Help us renew their faith in people around them to see them when they’re feeling invisible and insignificant. These are the types of poverty reduction efforts that change people and change lives. One of the most devastating outcomes, in my opinion, of living in poverty is the destruction of potential. When you gift a child with confidence and self-worth the possibilities are endless…and their potential is restored.
*The greatest thing you can give a child is confidence. –Gail Porter
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