Food bank passes out school supplies this week
SNOHOMISH - The Snohomish Food Bank’s School Backpack Program hopes to provide free supplies to 300 to 400 kids this year.
The program, in its seventh year, helps families within the Snohomish School District.
Elizabeth Grant, food bank director, said she expects to help fewer kids this year as only 260 kids have signed up so far for supplies. Last year, the food bank served 511 kids.
This may be a good sign that need in the area is diminishing, Grant said last week.
To be eligible to receive supplies, families must live within the school district’s boundaries and must sign up to become “clients” of the food bank, which Grant said is an easy process.
Families need to fill out a form that indicates their income.
“It’s based on an honor system,” Grant said, adding that they don’t require people to bring a lot of documentation to prove their need.
Students in kindergarten through high school will be receiving backpacks filled with supplies such as binders, glue sticks, colored pencils, crayons and spiral notebooks.
Supplies will be distributed Friday, Aug. 24 at Emerson Elementary where representatives from the Snohomish Library, Boys and Girls Club, and Boy and Girl Scouts of America will be on site to give information on their programs to the families.
The program used to only support grades K-8 until last year when Grant said that a surplus of generous donations allowed high school grades to be included, too.
“It’s a very generous community,” Grant said.
She said she loves to see the kids pick up their brand-new backpack.
“They’re just grinning ... these are friends and neighbors in need, the people who live next door to us and have a stroke of bad luck,” Grant said.
School Backpack Program manager Sue Coch has been a food bank volunteer for 16 years and recalls how the program got started.
A woman named Dorris Wentworth wanted to figure out a way to give back to the community after she retired and started an annual coat drive funded by a used book sale she held out of her home.
The coat drive grew every year, and it recently morphed into the backpack program, though the Snohomish Kiwanis Club still continues the coat drive.
Wentworth passed away three years ago, but her generosity lives on.
“She was so full of life, and had a generous heart,” Coch said of Wentworth, who was a longtime Snohomish school teacher and the first female Kiwanis member in Snohomish.
Grant said the program’s monetary goal is $15,000, and the money is almost entirely funded by individuals in the community.
Grant sends out a letter in May or June every year asking the community for donations, and she said they never let her down.
“Everyone is so loving and giving; we get more money each year,” Grant said.