Yes, local schools have just closed for the summer, but we still have some homework to do.
Today is Day 1 of our “5th annual School Supplies Drive,” a club-wide effort in support of Circles of Mercy’s push to help supply needy kids in the Rensselaer City School District in time for their return to school in September. But, there’s a twist: We’re combining our effort with a similar one by the Greenbush YMCA, which means we also will be helping to provide supplies for students in need in the East Greenbush and Schodack school districts.
For those unfamiliar with our drive, we undertook this project in keeping with Rotary’s pledge to foster literacy, encourage education, and improve communities. Each year we encourage Rotarians to get their kids or grandkids involved in shopping for the supplies as part of a “Kids Helping Kids” experience.
Here’s how Richard Zazycki, executive director of Circles of Mercy, describes the needs of the Rensselaer kids we have been supporting:
“Of the approximately 1,100 Rensselaer students who attended school this year, 46% qualify for either free or reduced price lunch program. We continue to be surprised to learn that so many children — 1 out of 3, or 33% — live near or below the federal poverty level, which is much higher than the national average of 23%. Due to the high cost of preparing a child for school, Circles has a program available through which low-income parents may come in and get free school supplies for their students. This project is known as ‘Cate’s Kids Back to School Program,’ and we need your assistance again to help us help others.”
Put another way, the number of Rensselaer kids on assistance is about five times the average figure in other districts in the SRC service area. However, there are students in need in other districts in that area as well, thus the expansion of our effort this year.
Here are the details of SRC’s effort:
— Items may be donated until Sunday, August 19. Project coordinator Bill Dowd will deliver them to Circles of Mercy on the August 20 deadline. That will give the folks at Circles a week to divide and pack donations into backpacks for parents to pick up just before school starts.
— We ask each member of our club to purchase one or more items on the following shopping list, and bring them to any of our club get-togethers so Bill can begin collating the collection. Those events begin this week — Thursday, June 28 — with the Presidential Changeover picnic at the Browns’ residence. Or, if it is more convenient, you can drop off donated items at the Greenbush YMCA, where SRC member Shannon Romanowski is executive director.
— If for some reason you do not plan to participate in any club activities through August 19, you still will be able to contribute. Simply contact Bill to arrange pickup of your items or, as noted above, you can drop off donated items at the Greenbush YMCA.
— Please stick to the following shopping list. It contains the most-needed items for grades K-12.
- Pencils (Regular Lead #2 and Color)
- Pencil sharpeners
- Erasers (for pencil work)
- Pens (black or blue)
- Markers (dry erase and color)
- Pocket Folders (Assorted Colors)
- 3-Ring Binders (in 2” and 3” Sizes)
- Loose leaf paper (college ruled)
- Graph paper
- Spiral subject notebooks (1-, 3- and 5-subject, college ruled)
- Subject dividers
- Pencil cases / boxes (plastic, zippered)
- 3”x5” index cards
- Highlighters (yellow)
- Rulers (regular with metric)
- Kleenex tissues
- Hand sanitizer (small bottles)
- Post-It Notes
- Backpacks (no rollers / no wheels)
- Ear buds (inexpensive, for computer use)
- Flash drives (all sizes)
- Scientific calculators (Texas Instrument TI-84)
- Hole reinforcement labels
- Combination locks (for gym lockers)