ECHO seeks volunteers next week for school supply distribution

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

JANESVILLE — Are you free next week?

If so, ECHO needs you.

The nonprofit faith- and community-sponsored charity, Everyone Cooperating to Help Others, has been collecting school supplies for needy Janesville families for 13 years.

Through this weekend, ECHO is encouraging residents to leave supplies in barrels at locations throughout Janesville, said Jessica Schafer-Locher, client advocate and office manager at ECHO.

"This is our sixth year in collaboration with the Janesville School District and McDonald's," Schafer-Locher said. "We want to provide as many supplies to our low income families as possible."

Last year, 978 children received backpacks with pens, pencils, paper, rulers, folders, paints, scissors, calculators and other supplies, Schafer-Locher said. She expects the group to be on target for about the same amount this year.

"We want to ensure that kids go into school with as much as they need," Schafer-Locher said. "Even though it seems like the economy is getting better, a lot of the jobs out there are minimum wage jobs. After bills and other expenses, there's not a lot left to purchase school supplies."

The sign-up period for families wanting supplies has ended, but any family that didn't have the chance to receive supplies will have the opportunity to receive what's left over, Schafer-Locher said. The remaining supplies are given to the Janesville district to distribute, she said.

Monday, Aug. 18, through Friday, Aug. 22, ECHO will work to sort the donated supplies and then pack them into backpacks that will be distributed to families.

The group is looking for volunteers to help with the process and needs help for the sorting, packing and distributing, Schafer-Locher said. Those interested in helping can call the ECHO office, she said.

"It's hard to buy what you need on minimum wage," Schafer-Locher said. "It's really nice for them to not have to worry about getting these things for their kids."

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