Being without a pencil, paper or a backpack can be scarring for a kid returning to school, but some families simply can’t afford school supplies.
Organizations in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas say the need is higher than ever this year, and they hope to collect and distribute as many supplies as possible so children are spared the embarrassment.
“They need the tools to feel proud and to go back to school and succeed,” said Sheila Geraghty, Spokane branch Salvation Army spokeswoman.
Charitable organizations, nonprofits, private companies and media outlets throughout the Inland Northwest have spent much of the past month or longer gathering school supplies to be distributed during the next two weeks.
But donations have been slow and the need is expected to be high.
“When I’ve gone out to pick up supplies from some collection bins at stores, they’ve been empty,” Geraghty said.
“We’ve had more requests than we can fill,” said Jodi Kayler, director of marketing at The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene.
Organizers of the Stuff the Bus school supply drive, which benefits students in the Cheney School District and Spokane Public Schools, also have reported lagging donations.
“We won’t really know the need until school starts, but if last year was any indication, then yes, it will be high,” said Ben Stuckart, director of Communities in Schools, a Stuff the Bus sponsor.
The Salvation Army in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane ran out of supplies to give away last year, so this year they are trying to be better prepared, officials said. But they still need supplies to fill a vast number of backpacks.
“We still need 800 if we are going to meet our goal,” Geraghty said.
School supply drives will continue through the next two weeks so people still have a chance to donate.
Distribution at the Spokane’s Salvation Army is 1 to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. In Coeur d’Alene, it’s 3 p.m. Aug. 31, but students must be registered through Salvation Army Kroc Center.
After the distribution in Spokane, any surplus will be handed out through Salvation Army’s food bank and at its shelters.
Geraghty said that if people could see how grateful the children are for things like pens, papers and folders, they’d understand just how important it is to them to have school supplies.
“When they open up those backpacks,” she said, “the looks on their faces are like Christmas.”