(June 27 2017) Catherine Read talks with several members of the Collect for Kids initiative, which is a collaborative effort of 15+ organizations that collect and distribute school supplies to students eligible for free and reduced lunches. In Fairfax County, over 50,000 students meet those eligibility requirements. The Collect for Kids organizations include some for-profit companies like Walmart and Apple Federal Credit Union, non-profits such as FACETS and NVFS, and agencies such as Fairfax County’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3) working together in a decentralized effort to collect and distribute these supplies efficiently.
In the first segment Susan Ungerer, a retired teacher, talks about how she started the all volunteer non-profit Kids R First which is now part of this larger Collect for Kids collaboration. It began in her garage and quickly outgrew the space. Sherry Noud, a school social worker with the Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Business and Community Partnerships, talks about the system of referrals that identifies the students who need school supplies. The Office of Social Work Services is instrumental in identifying students who need these supports. She also points out that school supplies are needed throughout the year and it’s not a need that is fully met in the first few weeks of the school year. Sherry also talks about the organizations that collect the backpacks for those school supplies and they include Cornerstones, Western Fairfax Christian Ministries and Britepaths.
In the second segment, Jay Garant, Program Director for the Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Business and Community Partnerships, talks about the growth of the program from 2011 when they served 16,000 FCPS students to 2016 when they distributed supplies to over 37,000 students. Joanne Walton, Seasonal Programs Manager for Britepaths outlines the efforts they make to maximize buying power through bulk purchases of school supplies. One dollar donated through www.CollectforKids.org or one of their partner organizations results in $3 worth of school supplies because of quantity purchasing. Jay Garant estimates that $6 to $10 donated will outfit a student with a backpack of necessary school supplies to start the school year.
The Collect for Kids School Supply Drive kicks off July 1st. In August, the supplies will be sorted and distributed prior to the first day of school on August 28th. The supply drive will continue after the start of the school year outside retailers such as Walmart as the program continues to acquire the school supplies that will be needed by these students later in the school year. If your business, faith community or service organization would like to set up a school supplies drive, visit www.CollectforKids.org for more information on how to get involved.