To find out more about the lack of access low-income families face, JCPenney researched their biggest needs and discovered that families often don't have the resources for basic items like socks and underwear, and as a result, their children are forced to go to school without them.
But JCPenney's "Pair Up" campaign works to address this very issue: The retailer will donate a pair of socks or underwear to the YMCA for every purchase of these items made from August 1 through 15.
"Through a conversation with one of our nonprofit partners we started to learn more about this often 'invisible' issue of kids in need not having something as essential as underwear or socks. When you think of back-to-school basics, you often think about what you can see: backpacks, shoes, supplies, etc. But what we heard from our non-profit partners is that teachers and afterschool organizations often had to keep a stash of basic essentials like socks and underwear in their supply closet because every year they have students who come to school without these items," Aimee Lakotas, senior director of PR and Community Engagement at JCPenney, told Parents. "Parents had to make a choice and if you couldn't see it then the child had to go without. Being one of the largest apparel companies in the country, we knew we had an opportunity to shed a light on this an issue that typically isn’t talked about and help be a part of the solution."
Giving low-income families access to these basic items is really significant. According to the research JCPenney commissioned, 40 percent of low-income families worry they won't be able to afford socks and underwear for their children; 51 percent of parents who sent their children to school without either item did so because of financial barriers; and most alarmingly, 55 percent of children who didn't have socks or underwear didn't want to go to school because they were embarrassed by the situation. And because socks and underwear aren't often available at secondhand stores or given as hand-me-downs, it's even harder for families to get their hands on these items.
Want the latest parenting news? Sign up for our Parents Daily newsletter
"Today, many children go to school without basic clothing needs like socks and underwear. When kids don't have these items, they often feel insecure, embarrassed and don't want to fully engage in school activities," Marci Grebstein, chief marketing officer for JCPenney, said in an emailed release. "We knew we could begin to make a difference by addressing this pressing need. When our customers purchase a pack of kids' socks or underwear this back-to-school season, they will be joining us in making a difference to ensure more kids have what they need to succeed this school year."