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Fort Collins Groups Team Up to Provide School Supplies to Poudre School District Students

By Tricia Vincent

There is nothing like the joy in a child’s face who has just received a new backpack, markers or notebook. New school supplies add to the excitement of a new school year, but according to statistics, more than 8,400 Poudre School District students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program will likely struggle to purchase school supplies this year.

The Poudre School District Free and Reduced Lunch program is a commonly used metric to quantify the number of low income students in the district, and the number of qualified students has increased by 14 percent over the last year. Currently, only about half of the students who qualify are served by existing school supply programs and the need is continuing to increase. To combat this struggle, several community groups are joining forces in an attempt to ensure all Poudre School District students have the necessary school supplies.

“Supply Our Students” is a collaborative effort comprised of representatives from Volunteers of America, Colorado State University, the OtterCares Foundation, Poudre School District, Concerned Larimer and Realities for Children. The group will promote a “Supply Our Students Week” from Aug. 6-Aug. 10, 2012. The intention is to raise awareness of the need for school supplies and to encourage donations so that all students have access to the supplies necessary to succeed.

During “Supply Our Students” week, several initiatives will take place:
• Volunteers of America will host collection barrels at local Wal-Mart stores in conjunction with the 9News “Stuff for Students” drive. This drive runs from Aug. 4-19.
• Colorado State University will distribute backpacks and school supplies on Aug. 8 and 9 to elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in the Poudre School District through their “School is Cool” program.
• The OtterCares Foundation will host their annual “Pack2School” backpack and school supply giving event on Aug. 10 at the Northside Aztlan Center located at 112 Willow St.
• The PSD Partnership Center will accept school supply donations for their Teacher’s Closet at 1630 South Stover St. The Partnership Center accepts donations year-round.
“The efforts these community organizations make to support PSD students in need are tremendously helpful,” says Dr. Jerry Wilson, Poudre School District Superintendent of Schools. “They work to ensure students have the opportunity to start the school year off on the right foot. This makes a substantial difference for each child who is helped by one of these caring and giving organizations and programs.”

For more information on the members of the “Supply Our Students” initiative, read below.

Volunteers of America
In partnership with the 9News “Stuff for Students” drive, Volunteers of America Northern Colorado collects new school supplies through collection barrels at local Wal-Mart stores during the month of August. Supplies collected at stores in Fort Collins and Timnath are donated directly to the Poudre School District Teacher’s Closet. For more information, visit: http://topics.9news.com/stuffforkids.

Colorado State University: School is Cool
Over the past 20 years, “School is Cool” has helped more than 26,000 children in the Poudre School District. Last year, the program provided 2,650 backpacks to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Each school determines which students will receive supplies based on need. “School is Cool” is organized and managed entirely by Colorado State University employees with generous support from the Bohemian Foundation and Colorado State University Bookstore. For more information visit: www.colostate.edu/features/school-is-cool.aspx.

OtterCares Foundation: Pack2School
As the charitable arm of OtterBox®, the OtterCares Foundation hosts “Pack2School,” a one-day event where students are able to “shop” for their supplies, free of charge. Supplies are purchased by OtterCares and the event is staffed by OtterBox and OtterCares employees as well as community volunteers. In 2011, the event supported kindergarten through eighth grade students from Poudre School District. In 2012, Pack2School will also include supplies for high school students. For more information, visit: www.ottercares.org/pack2-school.

Poudre School District
The Poudre School District Partnership and Volunteer Center accepts school supply and office supply donations throughout the year at The Teacher’s Closet.  This is where teachers come once a week and shop for supplies for their students and classrooms.  To coordinate a donation, please contact 970-490-3208.

Realities for Children
This charitable organization is dedicated to serving the unmet needs of abused and neglected children in Larimer County. Through an annual drive, Realities for Children collects backpacks and supplies to distribute to children served by their affiliate agencies. For more information, visit: www.realitiesforchildren.com.

Concerned Larimer
Through various faith groups and churches, Concerned Larimer procures donations of school supplies for the Volunteers of America collection barrels in August. Concerned Larimer then generates additional supplies from the faith community for second semester and has helped to fill specific requests such as hand sanitizer and tissues. Donations go directly to the Poudre School District Teacher’s Closet, 1630 South Stover St. For more information, visit: www.concernedlarimer.org.
Each group would like to thank the community members who donate to these programs and who help “Supply Our Students.”