Groups collecting donations for needy students
That’s without the sneakers, lunch box or backpack that junior might have left over from last year.
For families struggling with reduced incomes—or no income at all—back-to-school expenses such as supplies, athletic and school fees can be a burden.
A record number of local organizations including social service agencies, community groups, churches and business are hosting school supply drives to help get kids back to school with everything they need—from glue sticks to gym shorts and sneakers to scientific calculators.
Who needs help?
One of the Janesville School District’s primary methods of tracking poverty is through the number of children who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches.
Under federal guidelines, children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the national poverty level are eligible for free meals. For a family of four, that amount is $28,665 or less. For reduced cost meals, families qualify if household income is between 130 and 185 percent of the national poverty level. For a family of four, that’s $28,665 to $40,793.
Numbers vary from school to school. At Wilson Elementary, 96 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. At Harrison Elementary School, it’s 16.9 percent.
Last year, 360 Janesville School District students were homeless.
At Adams Elementary, principal Kitty Grant has seen her free-and-reduced lunch numbers inch up from 22 percent in the 2000-01 school year to 49.25 in 2008-09.
For classroom supplies, parents tend to come in with all of the supplies or none at all.
“Families are doing their best with what they have or don’t have,” Grant said.
Occasionally, kids have everything exceptt for the more expensive items, such as a box of watercolor paints.
“There are things on the list that we didn’t used to ask for, like Ziploc bags,” Grant said. “Teachers added those to the list because they were buying so many.”
Tissues, Ziploc bags and Clorox wipes are other items that often don’t make the cut because of the expense.
All of the school supply drives are looking for the basics, such as crayons, glue and glue sticks, pencils, colored scissors, pens, rulers, supply boxes, erasers, folders and markers, watercolors, spiral notebooks, Kleenex and highlighters.
In addition, some supply drives are asking for items such as scientific calculators and flash drives for middle school and high school kids.
Other special needs include:
-- Items for homeless students. Ann Forbeck, a social worker who works with the district’s homeless students, said her students need items such as snow pants, waterproof gloves and new socks and underwear.
“They can get used clothing, but they’re not going to find socks and underwear at thrift stores,” Forbeck said.
-- T-shirts and athletic shorts for gym to help stock Parker Closet. The Closet provides school supplies, clothing and personal hygiene items to high school students all year.
-- Sneakers and boots for elementary school kids. Most schools prefer that students keep an extra pair of sneakers at school for gym class. Kids grow out of sneakers in a hurry, and some parents find it hard to keep up.
“Nobody thinks about boots at the beginning of the school year,” Grant said.
SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVES
All school supply drives are looking for the standard supplies such as pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, markers and glue sticks. In addition, some organizations are asking for special items.
Parker Closet at Parker High School, Janesville
Special requests: Pencil cases/zip bags, mini packs of Kleenex, mini bottles of hand sanitizer, calculators and scientific calculators, Chapstick, Hanes T-shirts for gym, athletic shorts for gym. Most needed sizes are girls medium and large and boys large, extra-large and extra-extra-large.
Parker Closet provides school supplies, clothing basics and personal care items for students in need.
Drop-off points: Parker High School, 3125 Mineral Point Ave. Donations can be dropped off from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12. During the school year, donations can be dropped off throughout the school day.
Janesville School District’s outreach to homeless students
Special needs: Bus tokens, snow pants, waterproof gloves, boots, clean socks and underwear, personal hygiene items such as deodorant and sanitary napkins.
Drop-off point: Items can be donated to individual schools. Check can be made out to the Janesville School District and should specify that they are for supplies for students in need.
Edgerton Community Outreach
Special requests: Flash drives, protractors, and compasses.
Drop-off points: Outreach Thrift Store, 106 S. Main St., Edgerton; American Family Insurance, David Pierce Agency, 807 N. Main St., Edgerton.
To sign up: Call (608) 884-9593.
Special requests: Scientific calculators, vinyl nap mats
Drop-off points: Bank of Evansville, 12 J Lindemann Drive; M & I Bank, 25 North Madison St. Union Bank & Trust, 2 E. Main St.
To sign up: Contact your school’s guidance counselor.
Milton Community Action Food Pantry
Drop-off point: Pantry, 36 Hilltop Drive, Milton. Hours are 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., Wednesdays; and 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month.
Sign up: In person at the food pantry
Drop-off point: Many local churches are participating, donations also are being taken at the ECHO office, 65 S. High St., Janesville.
Sign up: In person at the ECHO office.
First National Bank and Trust
Drop-off point: All branches.
Special requests: Monetary donations are accepted. They should be marked “school supply drive” and mailed to First National Bank, 345 E. Grand Ave., Beloit, 53511.
Blackhawk Hawk Community Credit Union, 1116 East Geneva St., Delavan
Items needed: Any school supplies. Cash also is being accepted for needed items that don’t get donated.
Goal: Fill a van from Kune’s Country Ford Lincoln Mercury.
Fashion Bug, 2129 E. Geneva Street, Delavan
Items: Any school supplies, including backpacks.
Goal: Fill a bus from Dousman Transportation.
Lake Geneva M&I Bank, 410 Broad St., Lake Geneva
M&I Bank in Lake Geneva is collecting school supplies through Sept. 3. They will be distributed through local schools.
St. Paul’s giveaway is Aug. 21
Sneakers and backpacks.
Hot dogs, buns and ants for picnic in the park.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church as it covered.
For the second year, St. Paul’s is hosting a “Back to School Party In the Park” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21.
The event will feature a meal, carnival games and the distribution of sneakers, backpacks and supplies.
“We have 420 backs of school supplies, 70 for each grade, K to 5,” said Eric Hill chairman of the churches evangelism committee.
They also hope to provide sneakers for all of the kids.
The event is designed to reach the students and families at Wilson School. About 96 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. That means they’re living near or below the national poverty level.
Last year, almost 250 people showed up.
The event itself is as important as the giveaway.
“It’s the community interaction,” Hill said. “We want to show God’s love.”