April 6, 2023 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

For the past ten years, Trista Reid has been collecting new and gently-used backpacks and school supplies and donating them to the Thames Valley District School Board through 98.1 FM’s Rock Back to School program. Now at King’s and with the King’s University College Students’ Council (KUCSC) and the SJP Club providing support, the first-year Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS) student will be giving half of this year’s donations to Western University and the affiliate colleges to support students.

From now until May 31, 2023, there will be boxes in the KUCSC office in the King Student Life Centre, the library and the Accessibility, Counselling and Student Development (ACSD) waiting room in Wemple Hall for anyone who would like to donate a backpack or other supplies. In addition to backpacks, Reid has also been collecting donations of pencils, pens, highlighters, binders, textbooks, paper, and any other school supplies a student may need.

Collecting backpacks started for Reid as a birthday present at age 10. The first year, she collected 10 backpacks. Reid began using social media, including Facebook, to ask for donations for her Starting Forward charity. At 16, she made a goal to fill a trailer with backpacks, and collected over 250 that year.  Reid estimates that, since she began, she has collected 530 backpacks and lunch pails filled with school supplies.

 “From a young age, I realized that education is a very important piece of fighting homelessness. Donating a backpack or school supplies helps someone receive an education with the essentials that are needed to be successful in school. For children, it prevents bullying and for college students, it helps them to be successful in life,” says Reid.

During her time at King’s, Reid discovered that the program is also needed for students at Western and the affiliates. This was something that shocked her when she learned about it. “I have talked with different professors, and they have said how many homeless students they had in each class, and many didn’t even own a backpack,” she says. “I wanted to do something to help.”

Her family has always been involved with social change and giving back to the community. “It is part of who I am. As I got older and more educated about the realities of how others are going without, my charity grew with me. I realized that I was hearing stories from the voiceless that weren’t being told in the media that need to be heard, and I want to fix that by telling those stories,” says Reid. This was how she realized she had a passion for social justice and human rights, which has led her to the SJPS program and with plans to minor in Human Rights studies.

Reid suggests people should look for opportunities to give back to the community. “You never know when you’ll need help from the community yourself. No matter how small a gesture might seem, it still helps someone. Every little bit can change a life.”