Pack the backpacks


Many students in the area need help with supplies.

Story: Joe Angione

More than 15 million children live in extreme poverty in America, and many arrive the first day of school without the supplies needed to do their work, recent surveys show. Many of these students live in Lake and Sumter counties.

School begins Aug. 12, and these youngsters are in need of your help. Schools often can’t cover the costs of providing necessary items like paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, rulers, index cards, and other items kids use every day. Too often, teachers must resort to providing these items, paying for them out of their own salaries that barely meet the needs of their own families. For a list of what students need, check the websites of Lake and Sumter County schools.

If you’d like to provide assistance to kids in nearby neighborhoods, it’s rather easy to do, particularly when you band together with friends and neighbors. Since each in The Villages operates a social club or association that meets frequently, this is the perfect place to get a school supplies fund drive going. Donations from members don’t have to be lavish. Asking for $10 or $15 from each member would build quickly into a fund totaling hundreds of dollars. Better yet, buy the supplies on tax-free days provided by the state of Florida and bring backpacks loaded for the students.

Simply introduce the supplies drive during a meeting, and select a school particularly in need of funds. The club votes for a school or perhaps two or three to receive the supplies.

This requires no more than four volunteer workers: one to collect the donations, one to call the school principal to get a list of urgently needed supplies, and another one or two to purchase the items and deliver them.

The National Retail Federation promotes school-supply discount promotions all across the country. Locally, chains like Office Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, and others offer deep discounts on these items, including backpacks at bargain prices. It’s easy to find the best buys to maximize the variety and quantity of products that fill your donation packages.

A school supply drive like this gives you the deep satisfaction of making a positive impact on local students and their learning success. Another option is to make this a project for the entire school year because supplies are always needed. 

Want to help?  If you’d like to help ensure students have what they need, contact a school near your neighborhood.