LIFT-Chicago Goes Back To School

Cradles to Crayons has long been one of LIFT-Chicago’s most consistent and helpful community partners. The organization’s KidPack program allows for parents to request new or gently used clothing items, books, toys, school supplies, and more for their children up to the age of 13 on a monthly basis. These items would be delivered to our Chicago office and parents would pick them up after their coaching meetings at LIFT. Additionally, every August, the organization provided us with backpacks filled with school supplies to distribute to our Little LIFTers to help remove the financial burden for families that often accompanies the back-to-school season. As a result of COVID-19, this partnership has largely been on pause as our office has been closed for the safety of our members, their children, and LIFT staff.

Nationwide, LIFT has distributed more than $1.2M in emergency cash relief as a part of our response to the pandemic. This money supported families in the cost of covering basic needs like rent and groceries. Here in Chicago, we’ve made a strong effort to provide both financial assistance to families in addition to our coaching services, and collaborations with like-minded organizations that remove even more of the barriers keeping families from achieving their goals.

On two separate occasions this summer, our partnership with Cradles to Crayons made a difference in the lives of our LIFT-Chicago families. In July, we were able to provide a variety of hygiene items, baby items, clothes, books, school supplies, and more for our families. We packed all of these items in bags and distributed over seventy of these item packs to our members over a three-day period. In August, we were able to provide almost 90 of our families with backpacks full of school supplies.

The entire LIFT-Chicago team stepped up to ensure our families would have all the supplies they needed for this year’s back-to-school season. Casey conducted messaging to members about how the distribution of backpacks would look different this year and other relevant information including safety precautions for members; Laura created the Calendly page so that members could best schedule their pickups for times that would accommodate their busy schedules; Anna, one of our summer coaches, assisted with receiving the delivery of items and helping to sort them; Sarah assisted with the packing of the backpacks and the three-day distribution process.

Temporarily reuniting with our members during both sets of pick-ups was a joyful occasion that also served as a reminder of the importance of the work we do at LIFT and the work needed to upend oppressive systems. We are thankful to our partners at Cradles to Crayons for supporting us through this unprecedented time in Chicago and the world!