While taking a drive through my hometown of Memphis, several things stand out: You may notice the iconic Mississippi River bridge, framed in wire scaffolding forming in the shape of a giant “M,” connecting Tennessee and Arkansas. You may pass Beale Street, one of the most famous streets in the United States and home to recording studios, general stores, and restaurants all full of history. The hard-to-miss FedEx Forum, affectionately called the “Grindhouse” by locals in a nod to the hometown Memphis Grizzlies and the blue collar spirit of Memphis that their “grit and grind” playing style embodies, may also stand out.
However, amidst these symbols of Memphis’ hardworking spirit, the devastating effects of poverty lurk. Along the history-lined streets of Memphis, you will also see people who call these streets home. In large urban areas like Memphis, society’s youngest and most vulnerable members who have fallen into the dangerous cycle of poverty can often go unnoticed. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of big city life, almost half of teenagers within Memphis city limits live below the poverty line (2015 University of Memphis study).
With many of these children in poverty supported by parents who are working multiple jobs just to scrape by, it is our responsibilty, those of us who are able to help these vulnerable members of our community. They have the same dreams, goals, and ambitions as students like you and me, yet they are held back by the devastating grip of poverty, often unable to afford even the most basic resources.
It is the mission of Threads of Care for teens to help other impoverished teens by providing them with gently used, clean clothing. As high school students, we feel especially burdened when we see our peers struggling with poverty. We understand that the teenage years are of vital importance to a person’s development, and, as teens, we want to do whatever we can to make this time even just a little bit easier for our struggling peers. While a fresh pair of clothes or shoes certainly will not solve all the world’s problems, it will provide protection and warmth on a cold day, self-confidence, and a tangible reminder to someone who has very little that there are people out there who care about them.