August is usually the month when parents make their way down the back-to-school list, including new clothes and shoes, notebooks and backpacks. However, local school officials say far too many kids are at risk of not having the most basic classroom necessities they need to be ready to learn when school reopens in September.
Imagine the disappointment and embarrassment of showing up on the first day of school without the necessary school supplies because your family cannot afford to buy them. That’s why United Way’s Stuff the Bus campaign is so important. Donations of school supplies during the Stuff the Bus collection drive and volunteer event helps provide those students with critical supplies to give them the opportunity to share the excitement about school with their classmates. The supplies are also the tools needed to give students a successful start to the school year.
Every year tens of thousands of Orange County students arrive on campus unprepared, without a backpack and the necessary school supplies. The numbers are daunting when you consider that 16,000 students in the Anaheim Elementary School District alone are on the free or reduced lunch program; which means they come from families with very limited resources.
“Despite signs of a stronger economy, one in four of our residents live in poverty and those most impacted are children”, said Sergio Contreras, Sr. Manager of Education at United Way.
“Our communitywide goals address critical issues our children and their families are facing. They are interconnected and sharply focused on ensuring more children have access to quality education, good health, permanent housing and financial stability. School supplies may seem like a small component, but really the supplies are part of the safety net for our children to ensure they are more prepared to succeed in school,” said Sergio Contreras, Sr. Manager of Education at United Way.
“Making sure kids are ready for school is a very important and worthy project,” said Ben Alvarado, President Wells Fargo Orange County Coastal Bank. “We’re thrilled that so many individuals and companies really are stepping up to help meet the needs of those in our community.”
In addition to volunteers from event sponsor Wells Fargo along with Travelers Insurance, Edwards Lifesciences. Southern California Automobile Club, United Way and Anaheim Elementary School District plus dozens of local individuals and families came together to fill backpacks with school supplies and work on campus improvement projects that included painting ball walls, creating a salsa garden so the students can harvest healthy options like vegetables and improving the library so it is ready for the 21st century.
“We could not be more grateful to the sponsors and residents for providing school supplies to our students so they can be ready to learn on day one,” said David Robert Heywood, member on the Anaheim Elementary School District.”
United Way will continue to promote the collection drive for more backpacks and school supplies. To find out how you can help more kids get a good start to the new school year by participating in this drive visit unitedwayoc.org/changing-lives/education/school-supplies-needed.