For some students, attending college can be an exciting and fresh start to a whole new world of possibilities for those who’ve never left home. Many college freshman prepare academically for the higher level of educational studies but also look forward to being on their own away from the confines and worries of family. With the rise of tuition costs, they are often met with the challenges of additional expenses such as books, housing and food. Often scholarships, grants and financial aid may not cover everything a student needs to survive on-campus.
Trunk parties have become a traditional passage for young people hosted by their families, churches or community organizations for many that need those extra items to assist them in their college freshman year. The burden of costs placed on families to make sure their kids are adequately equipped with bed sheets, comforters, detergent, towels and other items may seem minor, but are God sent in every day dormitory life.
Better Love Yourself (BLY) is one of the few non-profit organizations that has designed a unique blueprint for identifying these needs for students and parents. Based in Chicago, the organization is the brainchild of popular R&B singer and entertainer Terisa Griffin who started BLY nine years ago based on her personal experience.
“The mother board from my dad’s church in Monroe, Louisiana packed me a gold trunk filled with items for college which made me feel like I was special. It also gave me hope and a sense of accomplishment,” Griffin said.
Traditionally, trunk parties have been a practice more familiar in Southern towns, but are steadily sprouting up in other parts of the country. Every summer, beginning in July, Better Love Yourself produces an annual trunk tour event that travels to various markets, including St. Louis, Monroe, Louisiana and Cleveland with the event wrapping up in Chicago at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Griffin adds that Better Love Yourself is not just your ordinary organization giving away trunks. She takes pride in its personal approach in assisting young people.
“We offer mentoring and a refill of their items throughout their time in college. We also help a lot of children who are in foster care until they graduate from college because they no longer have families to lean on. When students attend a BLY Trunk Event, they have access to workshops to assist them with their adjustment to college. They enjoy great food and entertainment, have the opportunity to win prizes throughout the day and are treated to the ceremonial trunk presentation,” said Griffin.
The process is very simple – high school seniors must have a 2.5 GPA and provide a college acceptance letter confirming where the college they will be attending in the fall. Students applied online at www.betterloveyourself.com by filling out an application which included a three-part essay. BLY partners with other community organizations and key colleges to disseminate the information to parents, teachers and students. For the Chicago event, 115 college bound students will be awarded trucks by the organization, along with a special reception and live concert by the R&B singer and her band.
Griffin explains, “Parents work so hard to financially afford to send their child off to college. After all of that hard work, they still need to send them away with a fresh start. These items cost more than some can afford. We want the students to take pride in what they have and to know that someone loves them and has invested in their future.”
9th Annual Better Love Yourself Trunk Event!
Sunday, July 26
DuSable Museum of African American History
740 East 56th Place
5:00pm Reception/6:00pm Trunk Presentation/6:30pm Live performance by Terisa Griffin
For tickets and information: www.betterloveyourself.com