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Community support needed for Back To School

Students head back to South Whidbey Elementary School on the first day of school last September. The Back To School Project hopes to have every student outfitted, supplied and ready to go for the start of the upcoming school year. - Roy Jacobson / Record file
Students head back to South Whidbey Elementary School on the first day of school last September. The Back To School Project hopes to have every student outfitted, supplied and ready to go for the start of the upcoming school year.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / Record file

Summer may finally be in full swing, but volunteers with the annual Back To School Project are already thinking ahead to the first day of class in September.

The Readiness to Learn Foundation’s annual project looks to the community for help for families in need of a back-to-school boost. Project leaders will place collection boxes at various businesses, churches and service organizations around the South End beginning Monday, Aug. 22, making it easy for folks to drop in their donations of much-needed school supplies.

Gail LaVassar, executive director of the Readiness to Learn Foundation, said the nonprofit community program relies on the support of businesses and individuals to help families that lack resources to get the school supplies their children need for class.

“The financial strain of purchasing supplies needed to start a new school year can cause great stress for many families,” LaVassar explained.

“Parents worry about how to pay for new shoes and new clothes to replace the ones their children have worn out or outgrown. How can a family find the extra money when they may be unable to afford the last rent payment or power bill?”

Flyers with the entire list of needed supplies are available at each bin location, such as the Whidbey Island Bank branch in Freeland.

“Backpacks, binders, calculators, glue sticks, markers, red marking pencils, college-ruled paper, three-inch binders and school boxes are items that we run out of every year,” LaVassar said.

Now in its 13th year, the Back To School Project raises funds and recruits volunteers within the community to help provide school supplies and clothing vouchers so that students can arrive at school on the first day wearing a new outfit, and carrying all the necessary supplies.

“Last year we assisted 215 kids from kindergarten through high school,” LaVassar said. Volunteers conduct similar back-to-school drives in Coupeville and the Stanwood-Camano area.

“We know that both parents and kids are grateful for the help,” she said. “One parent told me that she had been dreading September, because she knew she didn’t have the funds to buy her three kids clothes or supplies. The support she received from the Back To School Project actually made school shopping fun.”

“Another told us how nice it was for her kids to have a new outfit like everyone else, instead of all hand-me-downs.”

LaVassar suggested that potential donors look for the Back To School signs at local businesses and churches. Donations can also be dropped off at the South Whidbey Family Resource Center, located behind the former South Whidbey Primary School in Langley.

“We’re counting on the community to respond as generously as it has in the past, so that all children can start the next year on a positive note,” LaVassar said.

The Back to School Project runs through Sept. 7. Financial contributions can be made with checks payable to the Back To School Program and mailed to PO Box 346, Langley, WA 98260.

Interested individuals can call the Readiness To Learn Foundation at 221-6808, ext. 4322 for more information.

Community Events, April 2014

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