News / USA

School Drive Equips Students to Learn

Supply Drive Equips Low-income Kids for Schooli
X
September 04, 2013 1:47 PM
Buying new school supplies is usually an exciting experience for students, but it could be a nightmare for low-income parents, who might not be able to afford everything their children need. A group of local nonprofits in Virginia is coordinating efforts to assist these parents with a county-wide back to school drive. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
Supply Drive Equips Low-income Kids for School
Faiza Elmasry
In a makeshift distribution center at a middle school in Reston, Virginia, dozens of volunteers are hard at work organizing school supplies.

“[We’re] organizing and stocking boxes based on what supplies each school needs," said Natalie Toma, 17. "Then the schools come and get all the supplies."

Volunteering with “Collect for Kids,” a county-wide back-to-school drive, has made Toma more aware of poverty in one of the wealthiest areas around the nation’s capital.

“Personally I didn’t realize how many people are actually in need of school supplies that can’t afford it,” she said.

But Susan Ungrer realized the scope of the problem many years ago. The former elementary school teacher started to collect and distribute free school supplies out of her garage before founding her own nonprofit, Kids R First, 18 years ago.

“We reached a limit with our organization at this point with a certain number of board members, certain amount of money we were able to raise, and we reached to certain locations around Fairfax County,” Ungrer said.

That’s when she came up with the idea to combine forces with other groups and launch one big drive that would help more students.

Jay Garant, of the Fairfax County school system, said the county’s role is to help coordinate the effort.

“We have about 11 not for profits and maybe five or six for-profit companies involved," he said. "The goal here is let them keep their passion and do the same things the way they have done it, but let’s be more efficient in breaking down redundancy and pay more attention to who is covering what. It’s all about communication.”

Communication among the participants increases the project’s impact. Jennifer Rose said an exchange of ideas led her non-profit, Our Daily Bread, to ask donors for cash rather than supplies.

“Quite frankly donors today are very busy," said Rose. "They don’t have time to go shopping. So we’re able to stretch their donation dollars far better than they could by taking advantage of sales.”

This year, Collect for Kids helped 19,500 students at 90 schools. And it’s not a one size fits all campaign. Ungerer said each school receives exactly what its students need.

“In the spring of every year, we send out an order form and each school that is part of our program sends in a custom order," she said. "So it’s all grade appropriate.”

Langston Hughes Middle School Principal Aimee Monticchio said Collect for Kids is important to her families.

“Between our 7th and 8th grade," she said, "we give out over 200 backpacks a year.”

Forty percent of the students at Terraset Elementary use the supplies. The impact of having new school supplies can be both academic and psychological.

“It makes a huge difference in what children, and how children, are able to learn, when they come in and have what they need in good condition," she said. "And they’re able to walk in proudly on the first day of school instead of walking ashamed that they don’t have what they need.”

Parents are relieved to know that they can come to the school and pick up backpacks full of the required supplies.

"As a parent, I think it's amazing,” Ivonee Cedeno said. “It's very helpful to a lot of children. They are excited, can't wait to go back to school. They got the new supplies and they are ready."

Knowing that an estimated 47,000 Fairfax County students need the help is what motivates Collect for Kids to continue reaching out every year.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs