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Annual School Supply Drive meets goal of 6,000 stocked backpacks to be donated

Volunteers pack backpacks in the Fargodome lobby
Volunteers pack backpacks in the Fargodome lobby

Backpacks... pencils... pens.. Highlighters, markers, glue, folders, notebooks, binders... the list can be daunting as families go back to school shopping. At a time when food and fuel are pushing bank accounts beyond comfort, a deskful of new school supplies can slide down on the priority list. After all, a nutritious meal on the table trumps a new set of multicolor notebooks and folders.

That is why United Way has just finished collecting supplies for their 25th annual school supply drive. And they’ve reached their goal- 6,000 fully stocked backpacks are to be given out to Cass and Clay county students August 2nd through the 4th at the Fargodome in plenty of time for the first day of school.

Having these materials allows kids to focus on learning and to feel confident that they have what they need to succeed in school- both in their backpacks, and in themselves. Being left behind by their peers because they don’t have the same classroom tools can set students on negative paths before they are ever given a fair chance.

“To be confident and to feel supported by your community- not to be ostracized because you don’t have the things that other people have, creates a level playing field for our kids, and that’s really important for them.”

A level playing field. That’s what Joe Wendt, the director of operations at Essentia Health, is striving to create by partnering with United Way in making this year’s supply drive successful. There are more factors at play than just school supplies in giving all our kids equal opportunity, but the volunteers at the drive know that something as simple as a brand new backpack for their first day can make all the difference to a child.

Tiffany McShane is the director of community engagement for United Way, and this project is particularly close to her heart.

“If I could have a moment to chat with the kids that are coming in to pickup backpacks I would tell them, ‘look around, you have a community that cares about you, you have a community that wants you to succeed in school and in life, and sometimes asking for help is really hard. It’s hard for families to come out and say that they need help. But we’re here for them- our community is here for them, and I just want them to feel right at home.”

If you need help setting your child up for success this school year, she implores you to come to the drive and pick up all that you need. For more information on when and where to pick up a backpack, and what to bring with you, visit the United Way Cass Clay website.

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