The Journal News: Low-income Westchester students get free dorm supplies

BRONXVILLE - A local non-profit organization gave free dorm room supplies to nearly 100 low-income, college-bound students Friday at Sarah Lawrence College.

Scarsdale-based Grad Bag, which collects the items at the end of every school year to repurpose, handed out free dorm room essentials such as bed linens, pillows, lamps, chairs, storage containers and shelves.


Tara Smith Tyberg, co-founder of Grad Bag with Liz Gruber, said it's important that all students walk into their dorm with supplies so they aren't labeled as "poor."

“We want them to come in with bags of gear," Smith Tyberg said. "They come in on some more equal footing and it just starts off better from day one. You can set up your bed and your pillows and your storage units. It just makes the first day a little better.”


Grad Bag started in 2012, when it partnered with non-profit Let's Get Ready, which prepares high school students for college with tutoring and other opportunities. Yonkers Partners in Education also had students at the Grad Bag event.

The students — some first-generation collegiates, some homeless and most with financial challenges — were allowed to take home up to five items. 

“I feel like I’m finally being rewarded for something I worked so hard for," said Patience Savino, 17, of Yonkers. "It’s a reward to me, but it’s also a reward to my parents."


Savino said her family can't afford most of the items that were available Friday. The future art major headed to Ohio Wesleyan University was grateful for the blankets and a desk lamp she was taking home.

“It’s very emotional for me, but it’s also very motivating," she said. "I feel like I’ve always had to work for what I have, so this opportunity really showed me that I’m finally getting something back for it.”

Jeanneney Currie, a New Rochelle resident headed to the U.S. Naval Academy, spent years in Let's Get Ready's mentoring program. She said the hours of SAT prep in the program paid off Friday, when she was able to pick up her free items.

“It means I followed through and I completed something and now I know I’m getting a reward for going through the mentoring program," Currie said.

Grad Bag, which holds five pop-up events throughout the northeast, will have one in New York City next month.

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