Two organizations team up to collect school supplies for students in need

Two local nonprofit organizations—The Black Diamond Foundation, which works to help the Black community improve physical and mental health through advocacy and community outreach, and The Missing Link, which inspires children to find their source of motivation, consider how actions influence outcomes, manage stress, and explore potential career routes based on natural interests—have come together to work on a common cause in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Black Diamond founder Ariana Johnson and Missing Link co-founder Laylah Allen were seeing the uncertainty and financial insecurity occurring during the coronavirus pandemic, especially with school children.

So, to celebrate the teachings of King and assist in the current worries, Johnson and Allen organized a school supply drive yesterday, Sunday, Jan. 17, at Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 13816 Saint Claire Ave.

The motivation to do the drive stems from King’s own words and his legacy of humanitarianism and education. “Dr. King once said, ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education,’” Johnson says of her motivation to host the drive this past weekend.

The two have been collecting school supplies—already collecting almost 100 supplies before the drive to give to students ages five to 17—and people dropped off donations yesterday. Volunteers from both organizations will distribute the collections this week.

“The school supply drive is in alignment with our organizational mission to equip youth with tools and skills to address trauma and lead productive lives,” says Allen. “Placing school supplies, along with our complimentary Coping Boxes, in the hands of our youth sends a genuine message to our youth—we are invested in your positive growth and development.”

Additionally, Allen says equipping area kids with supplies will help them mentally as well as academically. “The Missing Link believes that having the appropriate materials and tools increases self-confidence and ultimately supports the resilience that our youth have displayed since the onset of COVID-19,” she says.

Johnson says she has seen the pandemic cause significant hardships—making the need for school supplies more urgent for many.

“Due to the pandemic, there is a need for school supplies as children and families are in constant transition from virtual education into going back to school buildings, we wanted to lessen the load by providing more school supplies to children and families,” says Johnson. “So that won't be something that children and parents have to worry about regardless of if they're practicing virtual education or not.”

Even though the drive occurred on Sunday, Johnson says they will continue to collect and pass out school supplies as long as there is a need. Anyone interested in donating can contact Johnson via email.