Echelon Pittsburgh Hosts Back-To-School Bash

Aug 30, 2023 | by TSA Western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Echelon chapter, the young professional’s arm of The Salvation Army, recently hosted an event for students staying at The Salvation Army’s Family Caring Center. 

(PITTSBURGH) - To mark the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, families staying at The Salvation Army’s Family Caring Center had an exciting, fun-filled day with a beach-themed party. On a Saturday in August students ranging from grades from kindergarten to high school quickly filled the lunchroom in anticipation of the bash.  

The event kicked off with a hearty lunch consisting of pizza (generously donated by Slice on Broadway), fizzy pineapple punch and homemade tropical salad and wafer cookies shaped like pencils. Once everyone was well fed, the kids headed outside to play limbo, beach ball toss and a variety of relay games. After exerting their energy, they enjoyed a delicious beach pudding jar dessert, made by members of Pittsburgh’s Echelon chapter. There were a variety of activities for the kids to participate in as they finished their tasty treats. The game of beach ball basketball was a hit. Others opted to play beach shell tic-tac-toe, showing how they strategically won the game. For those who love to show their creative side, there were arts and crafts tables where students had the opportunity to make pencil toppers, backpack charms and keepsake pieces of art. There was also a temporary tattoo station.  

As the party wrapped up, the kids had one final activity: picking out their backpacks and supplies for an amazing school year! They headed to the Family Caring Center’s chapel to see a mountain of options. The backpacks came in three sizes with lots of colors and patterns, ensuring every child had a backpack they liked. Fortunately for the students, the fun wasn’t over yet. To help them remember an incredible day, the children took several photos with their backpacks in front of tropical-themed photo wall.  

The staff at the Family Caring Center remarked how this event was “definitely one of the best parties they’ve ever had. The kids were so grateful for their new school supplies.”  

“I had so much fun getting to interact with each child,” said volunteer Kaitlyn Devonshire. “They were so happy just showing off their new backpacks. Giving them these essential items will set up a great foundation for the school year—to not have to worry if they will have enough pencils, or if their backpack can carry all their books. And also, it was touching to see how the simplest things can mean so much to these kids. They were so polite and thankful for the treats and just getting the opportunity to play and have fun. I would love to do another event just to see the kids smile and giggle again!”   

Typical shelters for those experiencing homelessness are often gender specific, allowing either women and children or men only.  The Salvation Army’s Family Caring Center, located in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, accepts entire family units, offering a unique, family-focused program. Visit to learn more about this facility. 

Echelon seeks to mobilize the next generation for The Salvation Army by providing opportunities for young adults to engage with the organization through fellowship and networking, donations and fundraising, and service and volunteering. To get involved in Pittsburgh’s local chapter, follow @pgh_echelon on Instagram, or join the chapter’s LinkedIn group. More information can also be found on Echelon’s national website,  

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