Carol Sanson and her sister Liz Tyler spent their one-hour lunch break Thursday filling their shopping carts at Walmart, turning $180 into 235 school supplies for families who would otherwise not be able to afford them for their children returning to school in the fall.
Competing to see who could buy the most supplies with their half of the money, Sanson and Tyler bought 15 cent folders, as well as crayons, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, paper, pencil boxes, pencils and more before topping it all off with $3 backpacks from Walgreens. Tyler described the mania as “like one of those speed shopping shows.”
School supplies like these will be stuffed inside backpacks that the Raleigh Rescue Mission, a nonprofit that provides shelter and other aid to the homeless, will give to the impoverished children as they return to school.
“For kids that go without, it can really detrimentally impact their self esteem, and therefore affect how well they do in school,” said Lauri Para, Raleigh Rescue Mission’s public relations director. “So they start off the school year feeling less than, and we want to give them that extra boost to give them the confidence they need to be ready to learn.”
The nonprofit group on Saturday held a school supply drive at Dollar General, where shoppers could provide a yellow plastic bag full of paper, glue and notebooks on their way out. The goal is to collect enough school supplies for at least 2,000 children this year.
“Anything that people would buy for their own kid when shopping, we are just encouraging them to pick up an extra one,” Para said.
Julie Underwood of Raleigh donated pencils, loose leaf paper and glue sticks she purchased during her Saturday morning shopping trip.
“I know the teachers don’t get paid enough, and they end up having to buy this stuff,” she said. “And the kids need it.”
School supplies can average about $100 per child, which can sometimes put them just out of reach financially even for working families. That is what happened with a woman who picked up backpacks for her two children last year and told Para it had come down to buying school supplies or paying rent.
“There are so many people that struggle with very high rents in this area,” Para said. “A lot of people are two income, working full time but still unable to meet those basic necessities for their kids. So when the school year rolls around, it’s really tricky for those families to be able to afford that $100.”
The backpacks will be given out from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at Raleigh Rescue Mission’s store and donation center at 4700 Capital Blvd. The nonprofit also hopes to hold its first backpack refill event in January to allow kids to pick up supplies such as paper and notebooks that they may have used up the first half of the year.
“It’s fun to give back to someone who needs it,” Sanson said. “Regardless of our situation, there’s always somebody worse off than you. They may need a little extra push just to help them get to the next level.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon
Want to help?
Donate backpacks and other school supplies at the following dropoff locations or give money online at www.raleighrescue.org/backpacks.
Raleigh Rescue Mission Store and Donation Center at 4700 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh. Donation center hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
PDQ at 6305 Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh. Store hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Receive a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $5 or more with each donation.
Five Below at 5900 Poyner Anchor Lane in Raleigh. Store hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.