Back to School Project begins its 11th year helping students in need

The annual Back to School Project sponsored by the nonprofit Island County Readiness to Learn Foundation is under way to give every student a chance to come to school prepared on the first day of class.

The project collects donations of clothing and school supplies for South Whidbey School District students who may not be able to afford them.

“The financial demands of the new school year are extremely stressful for many families, especially in our current economic times,” said Gail Lavassar, executive director of Readiness to Learn. “Many parents are worrying about how to pay for school supplies, new shoes, haircuts and new clothing.”

For the past 10 years, the foundation has collected money and donated items for distribution by its Family Resource Center behind South Whidbey Elementary School on Maxwelton Road.

Last year, donations enabled a number of students from kindergarten through 12th grade to begin the school year with a new outfit, new shoes and all the notebooks and colored pencils that teachers require.

More than $1,400 also was donated last year from service groups, churches, small businesses and private donors, Lavassar said.

The goal for the coming school year is to help as many as 400 students, she said.

School items most needed are sturdy backpacks, two-inch binders, colored pencils and markers, dividers, glue sticks and calculators, both regular and graphing for advanced math, Lavassar said.

“Finances are tight in more South Whidbey homes than ever, so we expect an increase in the number of families needing assistance,” she said. “We are counting on the community’s generosity.”

Flyers with the full list of needed supplies will be available at donation-bin locations including Island Drug and Boomerang in Clinton; Whidbey Island Bank in Clinton, Langley and Freeland; Wells Fargo Bank in Clinton and Freeland; and US Bank and Sno-Isle Libraries in Langley and Freeland.

Bins are also located at Coldwell Banker, the CMA Church, St. Hubert Catholic Church, United Methodist Church and House of Prayer in Langley; Christian Life Center, Coastal Community Bank, Building Source, Book Bay, St. Augustine’s-in-the-Woods and Trinity Lutheran churches, Sound Business Center and Chase Bank in Freeland; and Curves, Casey’s Crafts, Neil’s Clover Patch, the South Whidbey Senior Center and American Legion at Bayview.

Donations can also be dropped off at the Family Resource Center. Monetary contributions should be sent to the Back To School Project, PO Box 346, Langley, WA 98260.

For more information, to volunteer or to receive assistance, call Lauri at the Family Resource Center at 221-6808, ext 4322.

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