Massport’s Backpack Project helps Homeless Children get Ready for School

Children living at Crossroads Family Sshelter will be receiving backpacks filled with school supplies and a new outfit for the first day of school thanks to a four year old program sponsored by Massport.

There has long been a partnership between Crossroads Family Shelter in East Boston and the Massachusetts Port Authority. For years, Massport has been a corporate partner in helping Crossroads fulfill its mission to help the homeless that stay at the shelter on Havre Street.

Recently Massport has joined forces with Ropes and Gray LLP to assist the children at the shelter preparing to attend Eastie schools this fall.

For the fourth year in a row Massport has sponsored the 2011 Backpack Project for 14 homeless children that live at Crossroads.

The project and sponsorship by Massport will provide the school-age children at the shelter with backpacks filled with school supplies and a new outfit for the first day of school.

“This gift is a marvelous tool that helps children’s self esteem, encourages them to look forward to the new school year,” said Massport Director Strategic Communications and Marketing Danny Levy. “It also sends a strong message that strangers care about them and their education.”

Massport employees will sponsor a child or give a donation towards the project over the summer months so the backpacks, supplies and clothes can be delivered in time for the first day of school in September.

“Once again Massport shows its commitment to vulnerable children in the East Boston community, who defy the odds and prepare to go back to school in the fall,” said Crossroads Director Audrey Savikas.

Savikas and Crossroads are also asking the Eastie community as a whole to help with the shelter’s crib drive.

“Crossroads must provide cribs for all infants and toddlers up to age three,” explained Savikas. “New safety standards are in effect this month, and we must replace all of our aging, non-compliant cribs, which is approximately 20.

The crib drive is registered at target and the registry can be found at

“Crossroads deeply appreciates your help in securing cribs and creating a safe environment for our families,” said Savikas.

The Massport project and the crib drive come on the heels of the House and Senate’s recent passage of the FY 2012 budget.

Both budgets call for a significant shift of resources away from shelters and toward short-term housing subsidies.

“Among some new promising strategies, we agree that with this shift that continued investment from the private sector and donations from corporate partners like Massport will be essential,” said Savikas.

In 1985, Rev. Bernard McLaughlin saw the sea of humanity sleeping on the streets and in cars outside Holy Redeemer Church on Maverick Street. There were whole families struggling to keep warm during the winter or looking for a meal.

Rev. McLaughlin saw that he needed to do something to address the problems associated with homelessness in the area.

His solution, a transitional shelter for homeless families offering a supportive environment to allow families to live independently with the dignity and respect all people deserve.

Since its inception in 1985, Crossroads Family Shelter has become an oasis of hope-providing shelter for countless families in the area.

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