Many children still in need of school supplies
MONROE - In its eighth year, the Sky Valley Food Bank’s annual school supply drive is facing a greater need this year but will still manage to distribute supplies to nearly 700 kids from preschool to high school.
Neil Watkins, executive director of the food bank, has been helping with “Supplies 4 Success” the past three years and was busy last week wrapping up the final days of the program, which begins distribution Monday, Aug. 20 and runs through Friday, Aug. 31.
Watkins said the increasing need has been steady since the Great Recession began in late 2008.
“More people are out of work,” Watkins said.
Food demand at Sky Valley from July 2011 to July 2012 is up 15 percent.
Watkins said generous community donations afforded Sky Valley to not only fill backpacks with supplies, but add different choices for boys and girls if they want a more gender-specific backpack.
“It’s important that all the kids in our community have at least an equal start. So many of these families just can’t afford the list of school supplies (from the school district),” Watkins said.
Backpacks are provided through eighth grade because Sky Valley couldn’t afford to give them out to high schoolers; grades nine through 12 get their supplies in a simple bag.
Watkins said binders at $2 to $2.50 a piece were among the items Sky Valley couldn’t afford to supply.
The community responded to appeals for supplies on the food bank’s website and Facebook page. Sky Valley spent under $4,000 on supplies for the 650-700 kids, which doesn’t include donations of actual supplies.
“I just want to say how grateful we are to the community, we have a terrific community,” Watkins said.
Most of the families that get school supply help are food bank clients, Watkins said, but anyone living in the Monroe School District can sign up for back-to-school help.
Families will pick up their supplies at the food bank during business hours between Aug. 20-31.
“The kids are excited but the parents are more excited. The overall attitude is that they’re so grateful, they just can’t say enough thanks,” Watkins said.
Watkins said cash donations to the food bank that are earmarked for food stay that way, and donors must specify they want their money to go toward school supplies.