The Collective Residents Outfit Students for School with Backpack Drive

Residents of WC Smith’s properties known as The Collective (Park Chelsea, Agora) joined forces this summer to equip students participating in WC Smith’s Building Bridges to a Better Life (BBBL) program with backpacks as they headed back to school this fall.

According to Ashley Weatherly, events manager at The Collective, the residents contributed enough supplies to outfit 44 backpacks. Among the items donated were looseleaf binders, pencils/pens, paper, rulers and spiral notebooks. The backpacks were distributed to the students at a Back-to-School event BBBL had in August.

“We mentioned the drive in three of our weekly newsletters and posted the attached flyer in all the elevators,” Ashley noted. “To encourage donations, we gave one raffle ticket for each item that was donated—District Winery kindly donated a Tasting & Tour for two and Whole Foods donated several $25 Gift Cards. And, as a special incentive, anyone who brought their donated items to our large Summer Luau Party received a cool souvenir coconut cup. Donating was super easy—all the residents had to do was go to our Target Registry.”

A joint program of WC Smith and Building Bridges Across the River, BBBL provides housing, wraparound social services and educational workshops and field trips for families who were displaced when the District closed the shelter at DC General Hospital and moved other families out of motels last year. In August 2018 the city requested that we help 91 of these families find homes. To date we have housed more than 70 families in WC Smith properties.

The backpack drive was one of several charitable functions The Collective has sponsored. Others include a fundraiser and clothing drive for the senior citizens who were displaced last fall after the Arthur Capper homes fire, a toy and food drive for Van Ness Elementary School (which is in Navy Yard), and blood drives for Children’s Hospital.