Operation Backpack & Paige Davis making lots of improvements
By: Sandi Durell
TLC Trading Spaces’ host Paige Davis is passionate when it comes to her involvement as spokesperson and board member for Volunteers of America, the sponsor organization for Operation Backpack, this much needed charitable cause. In a phone conversation I had with Paige, she was extremely enthusiastic and adamant about the importance and necessity to get the word out to as many people as possible in our New York community that homeless children need a chance at normalcy when attending school, like every other child,. It’s as simple as a new backpack filled with the school supplies required for that specific age group to help remove the stigma attached to homelessness.
Here’s what Paige had to say about Operation Backpack:
“It’s not a one-size fits all. They are grade specific. For example a 5th grader would get just what they need – protractors, compasses; a 12th grader would get calculators, dictionaries; little kids would get crayons, watercolors. Each grade has a specific list of requirements.”
The goal is to collect 9,000 new backpacks this season and there’s a large group of volunteers standing by, ready and able to do the work once the backpacks and the needed school supplies for inclusion are delivered to Volunteers of America. Fedex, a major sponsor, donates their time and their trucks to the effort and, in one day, picks up all the donated supplies from the Duane Reade drop off locations; Duane Reade being another important sponsor.
There are many other sponsors aboard who help the cause, such as Frank Crystal and Company, Warnaco, Amherst Securities Group LP, as financial partners, along with in-kind sponsors including HarperCollins, Time Warner, Martha Stewart Living, a total of 72 companies and groups. Many community groups, religious institutions and individuals aid in this worthwhile cause.
It’s hard to fathom the thousands of children who are homeless in our City. As Paige so succinctly said, “Homelessness is never a kid’s fault.” This is a chance for each of us to step up and contribute by buying a new backpack and/or school supplies, age specific (see www.OperationBackpackNYC.org for details). It’s also a wonderful opportunity for parents, when shopping with their children for school supplies, to provide a lesson and awareness about charity first-hand, by shopping together for Operation Backpack as well. “It’s never too early to learn about charitable giving.” Needless to say, Operation Backpack is happy to take donations and transfer that money into the needed supplies.
The campaign runs thru July 24th.
I asked Paige how she became involved. “My neighbor, who lives across the hall from me, is the Director for Volunteers of America.” Why she got involved: “When I heard a statistic of 11,000 school age children who were homeless, it was frightening and so sad. I learned about the shame that accompanies homelessness. The stigma attached that if you’re homeless you deserve to be. Simply not true. Young children need the supplies to succeed. They won’t go to school if they don’t have them. For many children, it’s their first time getting these new backpacks and it translates to someone believing in them and that they can succeed. They need to know it’s not their fault that they’re homeless.”
Paige describes volunteering and charitable giving as a dirty little secret; “you always get so much more than you give.”
As for things going on in Paige Davis’ life and career, there is the distinct possibility of a CBS reality show about wish fulfillment. Her life on Trading Spaces and home improvement seem to fit well and reconcile with her stage career as she’s been fortunate in having the opportunity to pursue theater appearing in “Vagina Monologues,” “Boeing-Boeing;” regional productions of “Chicago,” “Sound of Music,” “I Do, I Do” along with others. But is there a Broadway role she covets? “My dream role was Charity which I did play in a national tour of ‘Sweet Charity, but I’d love to do it again.”
And how would Paige feel about taking her husband’s last name Page? “Oh, no I definitely will keep my name. But I can’t believe of all men . . .” Of course, her husband is Patrick Page currently appearing in “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” as the Green Goblin. “It’s been quite a journey,” says Paige, as she’s attended 43 different changes in the past 6 months prior to the show’s official opening.
She and Patrick love walking Sophie, their Maltese, and Paige is thrilled when people come up to her thinking they know her as one of their friends. In her downtime, she’s a happy hostess, having people come over, making drinks and dinner.
What might Paige be doing if she wasn’t the person we know as Paige Davis? “Maybe marketing and advertising. I’ve always been fascinated with that.”