School supply donations can’t keep up with increasing demand

As the economy continues to falter and children prepare to go back to school, the need for basic student supplies will greatly outstrip donations, according to a charity organization based in Washington that helps support children and families in poverty.

This year, approximately 25,000 children will receive backpacks filled with school supplies from World Vision, a humanitarian organization in Federal Way, Wash. But donations are not keeping up with the increasing demand, World Vision says.

"We are very troubled not only by what we are hearing from our staff, but by the trends we are seeing nationwide," says Romanita Hairston, World Vision’s vice president for the charity’s U.S. programs. "The unemployment numbers are particularly concerning. If parents cannot find jobs, that means basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, binders and backpacks are a luxury item many families simply cannot afford."
  • At World Vision’s site in New York City, requests for backpacks are expected to top over 16,000 this year.

  • In Seattle/Tacoma, approximately 7,000 children are on waiting lists for backpacks from World Vision.

  • In Los Angeles, thousands of families in need are expected to wait in line for a backpack distribution on Aug. 20 in Compton.

  • In Loudoun County, Va., Loudoun Youth Inc. and Recreation Outreach to Community Kids are partnering with MTN Government Services to produce backpacks for 300 students this year. Last year, the company provided 250 backpacks for students in need. [source: Loudoun Times-Mirror]

"Our goal is to help prevent parents from having to choose between buying school supplies and buying groceries," says Grace Lubwama, Southern California executive director for World Vision. "For the past several years we have seen the number of families in need increase, and this year is no exception."
"With families financially stretched, the burden often falls on teachers to dig into their own pockets to provide basic classroom learning tools," explains Brian Boyd, Pacific Northwest field site director with World Vision. "Research shows that teachers already spend an average of $356 of their own money on school supplies.”
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