Anticipation for a new school year can mean excitement, but it can also mean anxiety for families in our community, many of whom live below the poverty line and, like all of us, remain uncertain as to what school will look like in the fall. Thanks to Uplift Family Services’ annual Back-To-School Drive, however, the children we serve have the certainty of knowing they’ll have the essentials they need to start the new school year on the same, level playing field as their peers.
The Bay Area-based drive provides a backpack with age-appropriate school supplies and a hygiene kit, which includes a disposable mask, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss, lip balm, sunscreen, deodorant, and Kleenex to children in Santa Clara County. Once the backpacks are assembled, our program staff delivered the backpacks directly to the families in need.
Over the 18+ year lifespan of this drive, it has grown from a grassroots effort where we handed out a few dozen backpacks, to providing 23 Chromebook laptops for distance learning and 1,030 backpacks this year! This is the most backpacks we’ve ever distributed, and it represents the increase in financial need for our families, many of whom lost jobs in the service, retail, and agricultural industries with the onset of the state-mandated shelter in place, and who are desperately struggling:
“Everything helps right now; we hardly had anything for the kids for school and they felt so happy to get their backpack, they were wearing it around the house! Thank you!”
“Having the backpack delivered at the same time as the [CSU Lightning Complex] fires started helped so much – we were actually able to use the backpack as our “go bag” and add in water and needed items. Now we have school supplies and emergency supplies with us!”
“I’m very grateful to have backpacks for my twins to help them feel some type of normalcy in their lives.”
“This means a great deal to the children and their parents. Money is so tight for them that every expense they don’t need to worry about means food on the table or keeping the lights on. They were so thrilled to receive these. Even though they may not need the backpacks until later in the year, the school supplies can be utilized immediately. It’s wonderful for them to receive support from neighbors.” – Jacquelyn Harlow Torres, Deputy Director for the Bay Area Region
As such, we would be remiss if we didn’t give a very heartfelt thanks to our incredible donors and volunteers, who, over the last month, have helped to organize and assemble backpacks* in the gym at our Los Gatos campus:
- The Swenson Foundation
- James and Marianne Nelson
- Maggie Leach
- Rotary Club of Campbell
- Rotary Club of Los Gatos
- Elaine Herzig
- Almaden Super Lions Club
- Hillbrook School
- History Club of Los Gatos
- And dozens of individuals and families from across the Bay Area
Without them, this would not be possible.
Though the new school year is now upon us, Uplift Family Services accepts donations of school supplies year-round. For more information on how you or your company or group can help, please contact Darren DeMonsi at (408) 417-0784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have also put together a list of resources for parents during the coronavirus pandemic, including distance learning and back-to-school resources from local, state, and national organizations.
*To ensure the safety and health of all participants, we opened both sets of double doors and turned the air on for better circulation. In addition, volunteers had to socially distance themselves and wear masks at all times, and only 10 volunteers were allowed in at a time.