Community Wide School Supply Drive to Help Alameda Students Underway Now
The first day of school is nerve-wracking enough for most students. Imagine having to start off the year not having all the school supplies you need. That’s why several Alameda organizations have joined together for the second year in a row to sponsor Equipped 4 Success, a community wide school supply drive.
“Students need to be ready to go day one with all the supplies they need,” according to Bill Sonneman, president of the Alameda Education Foundation and a former principal. “If a student falls behind, they may never catch up.” Adds Vickie Smith of AUSD’s Family Support Services program, “That students and their families who have little or nothing are able to feel like any other student attending school and know they can be a success story due to our help” is the ultimate goal of the drive.
Equipped 4 Success is sponsored by the Alameda Education Foundation; the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD); the Alameda Point Collaborative; the Alameda Boys & Girls Club; Head Start; Girls Inc.; and the Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth, and Families. The group’s goal is to collect supplies and funds to support 1,000 low-income Kindergarten through 12th grade students in Alameda with filled backpacks or, in the words of Girls Inc. Executive Director Karen Kenney, to see “1,000 smiling children returning to school.”
Equipped for Success is collecting both school supplies and funds. Several Alameda businesses and organizations are hosting collection bins for school supply drop offs. A complete list of accepted items and drop off locations may be found here. Financial donations may be made online or mailed to the Alameda Education Foundation at PO Box 1363, Alameda, CA 94501 and designated for Equipped 4 Success. The Alameda Education Foundation is serving as the fiscal agent for the drive.
Supplies will be distributed to low-income students served by the School District’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Program (homeless is defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence), the Alameda Point Collaborative (serving formerly homeless families), the Alameda Boys & Girls Club, Head Start, and Girls Inc.
Education budget shortfalls mean longer lists of supplies families must provide and many just plain can’t afford it. U.S. families spend an average of $100 on school supplies and that doesn’t include more expensive but ever more necessary items like advanced math calculators, which can top $125 each.
In the past, there were separate school supply drives by various organizations, but last year the groups teamed up and were able to broaden the scope and effectiveness of the effort. “The more we are able to work collaboratively with other local organizations, the better we are able to have lasting impacts in our families’ lives,” explains Haneefah Shuaibe, Children and Youth Services Manager for the Alameda Point Collaborative. Last year, 900 filled backpacks were distributed to students. In addition, the group used cash donations to purchase 90 graphing calculators (that retail for about $125 each) for high school math departments to provide for students who could not afford them.
Working together not only results in a successful collection of supplies, it “increases public awareness of the importance of school readiness for all children residing in Alameda,” explains Lynn Moore-Kerr of Head Start. In addition, “by working together we foster community partnerships and connect parents with other community service organizations that support children’s services and educational opportunities.”
The group is confident that Alamedans will pitch in again this year to support its young people. “Alameda Boys & Girls Club believes every child deserves the resources necessary for academic achievement. We are honored to partner with other youth non-profits dedicated to making sure all kids in our community start the school year ready to learn with the tools they need to thrive and succeed,” according to Jeff Miller, Chief Professional Officer of the Alameda Boys & Girls Club.