“In 2006, our first year, we provided the package to twenty-five college freshmen.”
The idea for The Freshman Fifteen arose in August 2005. It was then that I learned of a young woman who had arrived, by bus, as a new freshman at the prestigious East Coast college from which she had been awarded a “full scholarship”. In fact, this young woman arrived with little else than a change or two of clothing in a shopping bag. It was hard to imagine how this new freshman could begin to adjust to her new world without the essentials of dorm life which most of us take for granted. Might she even think that she didn’t belong? I was lucky to find someone at the college who was willing to take her shopping and to bill me. This was a less than happy experience for the student. Overwhelmed by the enormity of choices and the sheer size of the store she was stricken with anxiety and indecision.
Soon I engaged my daughter Meaghan, a social worker, to partner with me to create The Freshman Fifteen. We developed a basic catalogue from which selected students could do their dorm room shopping. The catalogue includes fifteen categories including sheets, towels, blankets, comforters, bath items, school supplies etc. Everything is shipped to the respective schools in time for their arrival. We also decided it best to rely on well-known and established agencies to choose the neediest, most deserving candidates. These agencies have generally known the students and their families for a number of years.
In 2006, our first year, we provided the package to twenty-five college freshmen. Anxious to hear how we did, we sent each one a survey. Overwhelmed by their positive responses and glad to know we had left nothing out of the package, we were launched.
Since 2006 we have provided over 750 students from public, private and parochial schools in New York City with The Freshman Fifteen package, and since 2011 our Boston branch has awarded over 200 packages. The feedback from the recipients has been so gratifying. As one student attending Georgetown told us, “You’ve made me believe that someone really cares.”
These students are the jewels of our inner-city schools. They are, however, separated from their new classmates by a great financial gap. By creating The Freshman Fifteen we hope to be filling part of that gap as well as helping to launch many successful college careers.
Thank you for your interest,