Student Life Editor
The Backpacks to Briefcases Living Learning Community (LLC) creates a living community for students who are committed to stepping off the KSC campus and entering a professional environment post-grad. But this year, the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC worked to combine that professionalism with charity to help spread its message through the community.
During the week of Sept. 26, the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC ran a table in the L.P. Young Student Center notifying students and faculty about its clothing drive for Linda’s Closet.
Linda’s Closet is a non-profit organization in Keene that collects professional women’s clothing for to give away to women in the community in need. The ultimate goal is to help women maintain professional jobs where they can support themselves.
The organization’s website reads: “Women who receive government financial assistance do not receive sufficient funds to pay for the clothing they need to interview for and maintain jobs.”
The Backpacks to Briefcases LLC decided that Linda’s Closet would be the best way to promote professionalism while helping the community “dress for success.”
“Our programs are meant to teach and help the community learn how to be ready to take on opportunities, in life, school, and the career world,” sophomore Pam Bump, the main coordinator of this project, said. “We thought it could tie into our community service project really well.”
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The group first heard about Linda’s Closet earlier this semester when Gloria Lodge, the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC and academic and career advisor, proposed the idea.
The Backpacks to Briefcases LLC, made up of eight students who all live together in Pondside III, was looking for a community service project which they could connect to their LLC’s missions.
“I suggested the LLC consider collecting professional clothing and donating it to Linda’s Closet as a community service program,” Lodge said.
Bump said this choice was selected because of its tie-in to the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC as well as its visible effect in the community.
“Dressing for success and looking presentable for an interview or a class will create a person’s good image and also a lasting first impression,” Bump said. “As a group, we had many ideas for community service programs, but we felt that this idea was very interesting and a helpful one to the Keene community.”
The group had little time to organize, but promoted as best they could with the available time. They created a Facebook event, put up a MyKSC notice, and booked a table for the Student Center.
Although some students participated in the donation event, the group expected faculty and staff to be the largest contributors.
“We expected more of a response from faculty and staff,” Bump said. “We’re thinking of doing it again next semester.”
Sophomore Michael “Woody” Woodworth, who coordinated the event with Bump, thought it went well also.
“Students coming to college don’t have business-related clothing,” Woodworth said, adding, “We thought the faculty would contribute more.”
Woodworth’s only complaint is the lack of publicity they were able to get with such short planning. Bump noted that although publicity could have been better, students have heard about the event and have been talking about it.
Otherwise, Woodworth felt the faculty and staff were very supportive. He said many saw the table in the Student Center during the week and came over to ask about it.
He noted that because many staff members commute, they asked to make arrangements to drop off clothing at times other than when the table was open.
Woodworth said Monday he had several appointments during the week, despite the ending of the tabling, to pick up clothing.
The Backpacks to Briefcases event received support and donations from parents and friends in the community off-campus who donated clothing to the drive as well.
Because Linda’s Closet is downtown and many students do not have a way to get clothing there, the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC figured the program would be a good way to bridge that gap and make these donations more accessible to students.
“We realized that people may have clothes but don’t have a way of carrying them all to Linda’s Closet, or a donation area, with the business of classes or careers,” Bump said. “Because of this, we decided that setting up a donation table would be a great idea so that there was another area the clothing could be brought to.”
The Backpacks to Briefcases LLC was very impressed with the donations they received, and will continue collecting clothes all semester to bring to Linda’s Closet during the drop-off periods.
They also plan to run a table again next semester in order to continue to collect and promote the cause.
“I am extremely happy that so many people brought in donation items,” Lodge said. “I’m also pleased that the Backpacks to Briefcases LLC ran with this idea and plan to continue it in the future. This is one example of the great things students are doing here at Keene State.”
The Dress for Success program is just one of three the LLC will organize for the semester. They also plan to hold Sweet Teeth, a program that will pair Big Brothers, Big Sisters with the LLC to allow local children to trick-or-treat on campus and a resume writing seminar in November.
“Our programs are meant to teach and help the community learn how to be ready to take on opportunities in life, school and the career world,” Bump said.
The Dress for Success program did just that.
“We believe dressing for success is not the biggest factor of getting a job, but employers do judge on their first impression of a potential employee,” Bump said. “For this reason, we are collecting donations so every woman who wants to can have come nice outfits for work or school.”
Allie Bedell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org