(WMC) - As thousands of Mid-South students gear up for their second week of school, some have no plans to go to class this week. You may be surprised and saddened to find out why that decision is out of their hands.
According to Shelby County Schools, more than 10,000 kids have not yet shown up for class. Why? Some of them have grown out of their clothes and they can't afford to replace them.
The program director at Porter Goodwill Boys & Girls Club, DeMario Byers, says at least 20 kids at his South Memphis branch are out of school because they do not have clothes that fit.
"Got on flip flops because their feet have outgrown their tennis shoes," Byers said.
Sometimes, Byers pays out of his own pocket to help the kids, remembering what he experienced firsthand.
"You're embarrassed. It's like a major blow to your self-esteem," he added.
Financial advisor Ben Prudhomme is president of the newly established Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis Young Professionals Council.
"It just cuts right to the core to see children who don't have the basic things they need," Prudhomme said.
On Friday, the young professionals will answer the call by collecting much needed items for kids heading back to school at The Study, a learning center that offers tutoring, in East Memphis.
Shelby County Schools board chairman Kevin Woods says for many different reasons, thousands of inner city children traditionally do not start school until after Labor Day.
"If any of our kids are not reporting because they don't have shoes or clothes to wear, that's heartbreaking," said Woods, who is glad to see young professionals stepping in to help. "When I heard about this event, I thought this was exactly what young professionals are asking me about. How can they make a difference?"
Byers hopes the effort to put clothes on even one child's back will make the difference.
"Hopefully, somebody can see this and come to our rescue," he added.
The collection event will be held Friday, August 15 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Study, which is located at 5179 Wheelis Drive. If you cannot make it to the event, Boys & Girls Club is accepting donations for the drive at their central office, located at 44 South Rembert Street in Memphis, beginning on Monday. Donations can also be made online at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis website: https://www.bgcm.org/donate.
If you're interested in donating, here is a list of what is needed for boys and girls ages 6 to 18 years old:
- Notebook Paper
- Notebooks Sheets Book
- Pencil Sharpener (Electric)
- Correction Fluid or Tape
- Girls and Boys Underwear
- Tennis Shoes
- Khaki Pants
- White Polo Shirts (no logo)
- Tooth Brushes