For a lot of kids, the start to a new school year can be exciting — especially when it comes to their clothes and their gear.
Everything is new. The crayons have points, the glue bottle is full and the new lunch bag doesn’t yet reek of leftovers. Many students also walk into their first class wearing fashionable clothes, soft socks and un-scuffed shoes.
But for thousands of Mid-Columbia children whose families struggle — and who can’t afford to buy pens and paper, let alone a new backpack — the first day of school can be tough.
Thankfully, though, we live in a community that comes together when kids need help.
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Many organizations have been collecting school supplies throughout the summer so no child starts school without necessities like paper, pencils and notebooks.
For anyone who has yet to donate to this cause, the members of S.H.A.K.E. (Seniors Helping All Kids’ Education) are making a final push with its “Burst a Bus” school supply drive.
The event runs today through Sunday evening at Toyota of Tri-Cities on Canal Street in Kennewick, and 94.9 The Wolf radio station is also a sponsor.
We hope people contribute. The hope is to get a busload of school supplies to help an estimated 33,366 low-income students in the Tri-City area start their school year off right.
That’s the number of children S.H.A.K.E. members were told are eligible for free and reduced lunches in Benton and Franklin counties, according to Jeanette Fields, coordinator of the program.
She said this is the 23rd year S.H.A.K.E. has gathered school supplies for needy students. Collection bins have been placed at Tri-City locations for several weeks, and likely will be picked up by Friday. After Sunday evening, the total from the bus collection and the bins will be combined and volunteers will then take inventory.
They then distribute the supplies to 84 schools in the area, and the amount given is based on the free and reduced lunch counts at each school. Fields said they use data provided by the state education department in Olympia to make the determination.
In addition to contributing school supplies, S.H.A.K.E. also is in need of volunteers to sort and count it all next week, and then pack and deliver it. Anyone who would like to help should call Fields at 425-444-3041 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. S.H.A.K.E. is part of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program through the Catholic Family and Child Service.
In addition to the S.H.A.K.E. event, the Salvation Army and Fred Meyer stores have teamed up for another school supply drive. Parents can go to the Salvation Army church in Richland or the organization’s service center in Pasco and apply to get supplies for their children.
And for those kids who have outgrown last year’s school clothes, the St. Vincent De Paul store on Morain Street in Kennewick will give away two outfits per child on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parents are asked to show identification and bring their children with them so the kids can go through the racks and pick what they like. The free clothing is available for all families, not just those living in Kennewick.
Going back to school can be an anxious time for kids — even if they are excited to see classmates again. Making sure they have the school supplies they need can go a long way in helping them look forward to that first day of class, instead of dreading it because they don’t have what they need to fill their desks.