Annually, during the holiday season, South Pasadena High School clubs SkillsUSA and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) organize a local backpack drive for children in need.
As a part of the national program, Walking Shield, people from all over the country provide backpacks of supplies to children ages ranging five to eighteen in the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation located in South Dakota. Students, teachers, and community members sign up to provide for a child with supplies from a set list of materials that can be purchased from neighborhood stores. Items include winter clothes, toys, school supplies, and hygiene items such as toothbrushes.
They are delivered to the children during the holiday season as a gift for their hard work and an encouragement to continue their education. With this reservation having high rates of alcoholism and poverty, SPHS FBLA secretary Madison Pearson addressed the importance that she feels this project has. “I believe that this project is genuinely for a good cause. With the alcoholism and struggles that these children face everyday, it is important to promote their desire to continue their education and break the cycle.”
Although this project is continued each year, the organization of the 2016 drive faced challenges. South Pasadena High School usually teams up with Pierce College to provide supplies for these children. When the drive would end in November, Pierce College would pick up the backpacks that were gathered and deliver them to South Dakota. This year, with the loss of help from Pierce College, lead SPHS Walking Shield advisor Cathy Mason organized the drive directly with the national company. “This year, without Pierce College, we have a lot more kids to provide for individually. It’s great that our school has the ability to help these children, and it has been a challenge, but overall this is a great community service project to involve our clubs in.” said FBLA Vice President Isabel Bluml.
With the backpack drive ending on November 28, members gathered with the collected backpacks and prepared for their delivery to those in need.