GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The upcoming school year is full of uncertainties. The COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of West Michigan families wondering if students will return to classrooms, as planned or be forced to do distance learning from home.
Allyssa Murphy says one thing that is certain, is that children must be prepared no matter what.
"When a child walks into the new school year, no matter what that may look like this next academic year, it's important that they walk in with confidence and that they're ready for the year ahead," says Murphy a communications specialist for D.A. Blodgett - St. John's.
The organization kicked off its annual backpack and school supply drive at the beginning of the month. The goal this year is to provide backpacks and school supplies for roughly 400 kids in need. This year, the agency decided to hold a virtual backpack drive to limit face-to-face contact during the pandemic.
"We have had such a dedicated following for this drive for so many years. So, we're really just trying to reach out to the same people and say 'hey we're still doing this. We're still here and we still really need your help.' We're trying to get as much of that support that we've had in the past," says Murphy. "The way that it is now, is we partnered with an organization called Sydney Paige.
Sydney Paige is based in California, but they help organizations all around the United States, Murphy explained.
"We created a web page so that people can easily log on can click whatever donation level that they would like to give. It's super easy. It's easier than shopping for backpacks and school supplies," says Murphy. "So, you donate however much you want and then Sydney Paige will send us a backpack with all the supplies already in it. We then match that backpack with a child that needs it."
The children are clients in D.A. Blodgett - St. John's served by residential, foster care and counseling programs. Children already dealing with major obstacles in life.
"They've experienced abuse and neglect. They have been through so many different traumas in their lives and we really just want to be there to provide the extra support that they need," says Murphy. "Starting a new school year is scary enough, especially if you're in a new home with people you might not have lived with before. You really need that extra confidence. So, to have those supplies ready for any family that needs them - that's our goal."
Murphy says they have reached about 30% of the annual goal, thus far. The virtual backpack and school supply drive ends on July 27.
Those interested in donating can do so by clicking here.
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