Child with Furniture on Truck
What do we imagine when we think of children getting ready for school on an autumn morning? Kids may cringe at the sound of the alarm clock, or perhaps leap up from bed with excitement, assailing their dresser for the perfect outfit. Big yellow busses roll along residential streets, stopping for passengers great and small, with backpacks in tow. Out at the schoolyard, awaiting the bell, children laugh and run as rust and honey colored leaves fall. The back-to-school novelty has faded into routine, and students begin to count the days until Thanksgiving, and then winter break.
But what if that wake-up alarm never goes off? Or there is no bed to leap out of? Imagine a child is sleeping on the floor, or on a relative’s couch while their family searches for stable housing after receiving a no-cause eviction. Is that child getting the rest they need to be alert and learning? Would they be excited to show off their clothes, if they were wrinkled with no dresser to hold them? For some children, a big Thanksgiving dinner or holiday gifts are far from certainties.
As of November 1, Community Warehouse has served over 2,830 children that did not have access to basic household goods. When a family is faced with a lack of resources or stability at home, a child is potentially at risk for compromised academic success and healthy social development. For the student who experiences a period of difficult transition, one that may have included time spent in homelessness or insecure home environments, academic and social life can be daunting in ways that might not challenge more privileged students. Instability affects every aspect of a child’s development, from grades to self-esteem in their peer group to physical health. Instability, as defined by The Urban Institute* is the experience of abrupt, involuntary, and/or negative change in individual or family circumstances.
This lack of resources, such as food security or affordable access to healthcare, creates higher levels of diagnosed anxiety among low-income parents which can be passed on to their children, manifesting in social anxiety and poor academic performance. Studies tracking student progress through the 8th grade also saw a rise in behavioral issues among those who were experiencing familial transition via causes like divorce and housing transitions.
When a family visits Community Warehouse or a furniture bank in their local community, they are looking for some of the pieces that contribute to a stable home. Through donations of gently used household goods, furniture banks can play a powerful role in helping to create a solid foundation for students to excel and grow among their peers. With a warm bed, a child is far more likely to get sufficient sleep so they can focus in class. With a desk and a lamp, a child has a\\ place to do homework and study. Or, maybe they work on homework at the dinner table, troubleshooting a tough equation with older siblings; asking mom or dad for help reviewing state capitals. With these same household goods, parents can also get a good night’s rest, make toast in the morning, and have a space to work on a resume or study for class themselves, as they build pathways for their future.
So, imagine again a child’s typical school-day morning, drowsy and full of hopes and fears. The leaves on the trees in the schoolyard have turned. Kids play soccer beneath wandering clouds of their own breath on the cool air. Now, imagine what a difference the donation of a twin bed, a dresser, a small desk or even a toaster can make to that child’s experience of the second, or eleventh grade. It’s not the whole puzzle, but your donations really can have an impact on that child’s experience….of their first day of school, their first school play, or maybe even their first straight A report card waiting for mom and dad on the kitchen table.
*From The Urban Institute’s report: The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development.