Annual back-to-school supplies drive begins

Each summer, the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club participates in a drive to provide school supplies for students in the Rensselaer City School District. That time has arrived once again.

Why Rensselaer kids? Besides the fact they all reside in SRC’s area of service, of the approximately 1,034 students, 64% qualify for either free or reduced price lunch program — a number much higher than the state average of 52%; and, 28% of the kids live near or below the poverty level, compared to the state average of 21%.

Due to the high cost of preparing a child for school, Circles of Mercy, the Rensselaer-based family services organization we team with in projects all year ’round, has a program available in which low-income parents may pick up free school supplies for their kids. The project is known as “Cate’s Kids Back to School Program” and we need your assistance again to help us help others.

Our new president, Debbie Rodriguez, is looking for a volunteer to coordinate SRC’s role in this drive that focuses on pre-school and grades 9-12. But, even before such a person steps up, we can began buying supplies from the following list. For example,Target has a back-to-school sale this week. Rotarians can stockpile items now, and collection times and times will be forthcoming as soon as we get a volunteer coordinator.

The preferred shopping list:

• Pencils (regular lead #2 and color)
• Pencil sharpener
• Erasers for pencils
• Pens (black or blue)
• Markers (dry erase)
• Sharpies (assorted colors)
• Pocket folders (assorted colors)
• 3-ring binders (2” and 3” sizes)
• Loose leaf paper (college ruled)
• Graph paper
• Spiral subject notebooks (1-, 3-, and 5-subject, all college ruled)
• Notebook subject dividers
• Plastic zipper pencil cases / boxes
• 3”x5” index cards
• Yellow highlighters
• Rulers (regular with metric)
• Facial tissue packets
• Hand sanitizer (small bottles)
• Post-It notes
• Backpacks (no rollers/wheels)
• Hole reinforcement labels
• Combination lock (for gym lockers)
• Electronic items such as flash drives, computer ear buds, scientific calculators

Circles of Mercy has requested that all donated items, or checks in lieu of supplies, be delivered no later than August 23, so SRC will be collecting items and/or checks through Friday, August 20. Our eventual project coordinator will take care of collecting donations and getting them to Circles in time for families to pick them up.

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