CBSNewYork: Westchester Moms Help Low Income Students Prepare For Dorm Life
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For many college freshman, moving into their first dorm room is a dream come true.
Two moms from Westchester County are providing free supplies to students who need a helping hand.
Bronx teen Ashley Rivas is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and will be the first in her family to go to college.
“I came here not knowing any English whatsoever, and it was really hard,” she said.
Like some of her peers, she starts school soon but is clueless about what to bring.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t know you need,” said incoming college freshman Noah Weeks.
“It’s messy and confusing,” said another incoming freshman Mia Estrella.
So it’s a good thing Grad Bags is here to help, setting up its annual pop-up event at CUNY Hunter.
“We wanted them to feel great when they went to college, that they had stuff that they were proud of,” co-founder Liz Gruber said.
She and her friend Tara Smith Tyberg started the nonprofit seven years ago.
“We got the idea because we were moving our kids out of college and saw how much waste happens,” said Gruber. “A lot of the stuff can be used again.”
The Westchester moms started small their first year.
“We collected the stuff, washed everything in our homes,” Gruber said.
Their efforts quickly grew. Now, they work with 14 colleges. Students donate their new or gently used dorm items, like comforters and sheets. Incoming freshmen who come from low income families then collect them at no cost.
“This year, we are probably close to 10,000 pounds of laundry,” said Gruber.
An anonymous laundromat service washes the linens for free, and Stanley Steemer cleans the rugs at no cost.
“We hope the kids are realizing how sustainable they are being,” Smith Tyberg said.
The co-founders also partnered with the nonprofit Let’s Get Ready to ensure the kids are prepared mentally for college, hosting a series of workshops to help them in transition.
“College is a really complicated process to get into and to get through,” said CEO Kathrine Mott.
Thanks to a little help, these teens can handle it.