Project Cool: Supplying a Brighter Future for Children who are Homeless

Written by Krista Kent, Digital Design Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness and senior at Seattle U


As a child I always loved buying new school supplies, and there was perhaps nothing better than a brand-new case of Crayola markers. Having worked in a first-grade classroom this past year, I have seen that students are still excited to have new supplies. But for families who can’t afford to buy supplies, local supply drives play an important role in the community.

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in Project Cool for Back to School, which gathers supplies and creates backpacks for local school-aged children who are homeless. Volunteers came together at Columbia City Church of Hope earlier this month to help assemble and pack backpacks full of school supplies and dental kits.

Presented by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Project Cool prepared more than 1,300 backpacks with the help of 130 volunteers over the course of five days. The backpacks will be distributed to nonprofit organizations in August, just in time to get them to students all over King County.

Behind the scenes of a major effort

When I first arrived, I signed in, created a nametag, and then was led downstairs to where all the supplies were set up. There were big signs clearly marking where each station was located, including a first-aid station and a table set with coffee and donuts; it was clear that Project Cool really appreciates their volunteers.

During introductions I learned that there were volunteers from differing backgrounds: staff from the Salvation Army, YWCA, YMCA, even students who are currently in the youth program at the YMCA. Regardless of whether this was our first or fifth year with Project Cool, we all arrived with the same intention of making sure that every student comes to class with school supplies.

After introductions, the 11 of us split into groups and set off to different stations. Some prepared dental kits, some took out the recycling, and others cut ribbon that would be used to mark backpacks ready for distribution. For the two hours that I was there, I removed the plastic encasing from the backpacks and took out the small silicone sanitary packs that were inside.


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Guest Post: One Night in a Car, Our Family’s Story

Watching her child and grandchildren struggle with homelessness drove Diane to action. Read about their experiences and how Diane created a fantastic advocacy event scheduled for Aug. 22-23 in Pierce County.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

Diane is a devoted wife, mother of two daughters and grandmother of three. She and her husband are entrepreneurs and have owned their own business for over 30 years. Diane has participated in 60-mile cancer walks, Kiwanis, Lions, and has volunteered with St Jude’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is a passionate advocate for better programs to prevent and eliminate family homelessness.

This is her family’s story.

One Night in a Car

Over the past year I’ve dreamt of being involved in an event where others can learn what it is like, just for one night, to sleep in your car. If nothing else, the event would increase community awareness around the many children who call the family car home. These kids wake up in their car and head off to school to return to a car that may or may not be in the same place. My family has…

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“Just A Chapter In My Life”: Tacoma Mom Previews StoryCorps for News-Tribune

Tacoma mom Jordan Kemper says that being homeless with her kids “was a chapter in my life; it doesn’t define me.” She talked to News Tribune columnist Larry LaRue about why she’ll be sharing her experiences with StoryCorps later this month. Read the column below.

To find out how you can share your story in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties this summer, contact or call us at 206/398-4457.

Read more about the project here

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Larry LaRue: The homeless have their stories — and now they can tell them

Staff writer, Tacoma News Tribune

July 1, 2014