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‘Trunk party’ gives 60 Chicago students college essentials

Vincent Hale of Roseland was among 60 college-bound students who received some essentials during a Trunk Party on Wednesday sponsored by the Chicago Urban League. | Amanda Svachula/Sun-Times

Some Chicago students face an unexpected roadblock to college attendance — the cost of items on dorm-room checklists.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Urban League and a law firm eliminated that barrier for 60 college-bound students, in the form of a “trunk party.”

The students received trunks filled with a bed-in-a-bag, an alarm clock, towels, a desk lamp, and other college essentials.

“I’ve never had a real alarm clock in my life,” said Vincent Hale, 18, who will head to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in the fall. “You know, the one where you hit the snooze button?”

The Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm partnered with the Urban League to provide students with trunks for the fourth year in a row.

“If you are worried about what sheets you are going to sleep on in your dorm room, how are you supposed to focus on school?” said Danielle Parker, the Urban League’s chief of staff.

The contents of the trunks the 60 college-bound students received Wednesday. | Amanda Svachula/Sun-Times
The contents of the trunks the 60 college-bound students received Wednesday. | Amanda Svachula/Sun-Times

All the students that received trunks are participants in the organization’s Project Ready College program, which starts preparing students for college in their junior year of high school.

Project Ready College works year-round to help students with low- to middle-income backgrounds, Parker said. There are more than 100 students in the program from 52 high schools. Most reside on the South and West sides.

Hale, a resident of the Roseland neighborhood and graduate of King College Prep, said he has learned about applying to college, the ins and outs of financial aid, and how to network, through the program.

He already knows what he wants to be when he graduates: a business project manager.

“This program gave me a head start,” he said. “A lot of kids weren’t exposed to what I was exposed to so early.”