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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Help Send West Side Students To College By Donating Dorm Room Items

Breakthrough Urban Ministries is collecting bedding, furniture and toiletries that college-bound students will need for their dorms this fall.

Families at the 2020 trunk party hosted by Breakthrough were able to pick out furniture, toiletries and other supplies students will need for their dorms.
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EAST GARFIELD PARK — A community trunk party is being planned to give college-bound Garfield Park youths everything they need to be successful at school.

The Aug. 7 trunk party is organized by Breakthrough Urban Ministries, a Garfield Park group that runs programs for youth development, job readiness, housing, health and violence prevention.

Breakthrough is collecting donations of toiletries, school supplies, dorm furnishings and cleaning supplies to give to neighborhood teens at the party. Donors can support the college students by ordering items through the Target wish list organized by the nonprofit.

The organization has held the annual trunk party for four years to help West Side families who might otherwise struggle to buy dorm room essentials. Breakthrough estimates families spend an average of $1,600 to outfit a college student’s dorm room, and the group wanted to ensure students in the area would not be at a disadvantage as they start school due to their financial circumstances, said Marcie Curry, chief program officer for Breakthrough’s youth services.

“It’s an economic hardship for a lot of students, especially first-generation students who are taking a leap of faith and going off to university,” Curry said. “We want to make sure they have the things they need to be successful on that social level. They’ve already proven that they’re academically prepared … but there’s this other piece.”

Sixty-five students are participating in the trunk party, Curry said. Most students recently graduated from nearby schools like Al Raby High School, Marshall Metro High School and Westinghouse College Prep. 

Credit: Provided
A student picks out items from the Breakthrough trunk party.

Breakthrough has already collected some donations, but the group still needs almost 3,000 more items on the wish list to make sure each student gets enough supplies. All the donated items will be delivered by Target to the Breakthrough FamilyPlex, 3219 W. Carroll Ave. Students will be able to shop through the FamilyPlex to pick out anything they think they’ll need for school.

“We hope that when they get to their dorm and they’re feeling anxious about leaving home or being in a new space with new people that the items they get at the trunk party can remind them of home so they can feel comfortable and connected to their community,” Curry said.

Check out the Target wish list here.

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