by Clarissa Hardcastle
The non-profit Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) is teaming up with Walgreens to help lift the burden off of economically disadvantaged parents and students as well as under-funded teachers who are trying to prepare for the school year.
From July 29 through August 18, customers can buy classroom materials and donate them at any in-store collection bin as part of the Walgreens Back to School Supply Drive. With 7,907 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, these supplies will reach thousands of students.
“Walgreens is committed to helping the communities we serve, and this school supply drive is one more meaningful way we can help ease the stress on parents and teachers who may be struggling with making ends meet,” said John Gremer, Walgreens director of community affairs.
The drugstore chain’s locations also provide health services. Take Care Clinics in select stores offer back-to-school and sports physicals as well as immunizations.
According to a November 2011 New York Times article, all 50 states have reported significant increases in the number of children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, an indicator of the poverty level of U.S. families.
“This is a massive project that will help alleviate a massive problem. More than 14.8 million students in the United States live at or below the poverty line. When families are trying to overcome severe economic reverses, school supplies are not at the top of their necessity lists. To make matters worse, most school budgets no longer allocate for basic supplies,” said Dave Smith, executive director, KINF.
Teachers from low-income schools can “shop” for free teaching supplies at KINF resource centers. At the end of the national school supply drive, these centers will collect donated supplies from Walgreens locations.
“Boys and girls tell us things like ‘this is the first box of crayons I ever had’ or ‘I gave the notebook you gave me to my sister because she’s older than me and she never had a notebook before,’” said Smith. “When you receive a thank you letter or drawing from students who receive the free supplies we provide, you find these children have a true appreciation for what they’ve received. School supplies of their very own are precious to them.”
As the nation's largest drugstore chain, Walgreens’s (www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. It provides access to consumer goods and pharmacy, health and wellness services. Take Care Health Systems, a Walgreens subsidiary, manages worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics.
KINF’s mission is to provide free school supplies to ensure that every child is prepared to learn. In addition, Kids In Need Teacher Grant programs provide educators with funding for innovative learning experiences. KINF has distributed $400 million in materials since its founding in 1995, and it has received Charity Navigator’s highest rating for three consecutive years. For more information, visit www.kinf.org. Follow KINF on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kidsinneed.
Clarissa Hardcastle is the strategic communications intern at the International Reading Association.