News / USA

School Drive Equips Students to Learn

Supply Drive Equips Low-income Kids for Schooli
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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs