BY READINESS TO LEARN STAFF
Although summer is in full swing, volunteers of the Back To School Project are already thinking ahead to the first day of school.
“The financial strain of purchasing the supplies needed to start a new school year can cause great stress for many families. It is difficult to afford these items and to replace the clothing their children have worn out or outgrown especially if a family is already having trouble paying rent, a power bill, or worse, is experiencing homelessness,” said Gail LaVassar, Readiness To Learn Foundation’s executive director.
According to the project’s coordinator, Lauri Johnson, the average cost for a backpack and school supplies is $114, depending on the child’s grade level.
“This does not include clothing, gym shoes, or any other necessities,” she said.
The Back To School Project will assist several hundred children before the first day of school on Sept. 4. That leaves just 30 days to collect supplies and raise $14,000.
The generosity of community volunteers and donors has sustained the Back To School Project each fall, and in this 14th year is once again asking for help to provide new school supplies and clothing gift cards to eligible families.
Every year parents and students write “thank you” notes expressing their appreciation for the help. One student wrote, “Thank you! My little brother uses the donated items and now he’s not embarrassed to go back to school.”
Another said, “Thank you for all these cool things now I am really excited for school. Thanks a lot!”
A recent widow wrote, “Thank you so much for the school supplies for my two children. I really appreciate your help during a time of recovery for the loss of a father.”
Local churches and service organizations are already gearing up to assist, and collection boxes will be available this coming week in retail stores for the community to contribute. Items most in need are new backpacks, binders, markers and pencil boxes, just to name a few.
Flyers with the complete list of needed supplies will be available at donation bin locations and there will be signs at local businesses and churches.
Webb’s department store in Freeland is holding a buy one/give one offer. For every backpack purchased at Webb’s, a new backpack will be donated to the Back To School Project.
Donations can be sent to: Readiness To Learn Foundation, Back To School Project, at P.O. Box 346, Langley, WA 98260.
Volunteers are needed to collect school supplies, sort, stock shelves, assist with shopping, set up the tables and more.
If your family, or someone you know can use an extra boost with school supplies this year, call or stop by the South Whidbey Family Resource Center, located on school property next to the kindergarten playground. Family support staff can discuss eligibility requirements with you.
Interested volunteers, donors, or families can contact the foundation by calling 221-6808 ext. 4322 or 221-0484, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information is available at the organization’s website: www.rtlearnfoundation.org.