School supply drives help struggling families in the Tri-Cities

Two local organizations are putting on different school supply drives to lower back to school costs for those who need it most.

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- For many students come August, a freshly sharpened box of colored pencils is just one more item they'll check off their list of school supplies. But for kids who can't afford the supplies, being prepared for the first day of school is a distant dream.

From backpacks to binders and beyond, back-to school supply lists are exploding like never before, becoming a huge burden on struggling families in our community. Two local organizations are putting on different school supply drives to lower back to school costs for those who need it most.

“Let us take this burden off of you,” explained Caitlyn Carroll with the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission. “Hey, we can give your kids coats, that’s not a problem, go ahead and pay your electric bill this month, go ahead and pay your rent, we’ve got you, we’ve got pens, we’ve got paper!”

Carroll is running a drive for 300 underprivileged kids who will be flooding TCUGM August 25-26 to pick out brand new school supplies, backpacks, coats and shoes.

“That’s what we do here, make sure that they’re confident and ready for school and always have what they need,” said Carroll.

S.H.A.K.E and 94.9 The Wolf are collecting school supplies and money for “Burst the Bus” at Toyota of Tri-Cities through 10 AM Monday. Their efforts help over 33,000 kids in poverty throughout 84 schools in Benton and Franklin Counties.

“A lot of kids come to school without the supplies that they need,” said Sixth Grade Teacher Jessica Gussenhoven from McClintock Elementary in Pasco. “They notice that the other kids have these things that they don’t have. It really affects their feeling of belonging in the school, and so if we could get these supplies in their hands and make them feel like they belong in school, learning is going to take place.”

These charitable efforts don’t just support the kids, but also the teachers.

“A lot of teachers including myself will go out and buy those supplies themselves and it just makes it so we have to put more time and effort into it,” said Gussenhoven. “But we’ll do it to make sure that kids have supplies they need, so this is so helpful, things like this are great for the community, great for those kids, great for the teachers, and schools in general.”

Both TCUGM and “Burst the Bus” see an overflow of primary education donations piling up. Many donators forget that middle schoolers and high schoolers need bigger shoes, backpacks, college ruled paper, or three-ring pencil pouches.

“It’s always good to have people ask what supplies you need to be a better teacher and for your kids to be better students,” said Richland High Teacher Stuart Allen.

A thoughtful donation could make the difference between a kid making it through graduation or not.

“For the kids who kind of slip through the cracks, you’ve got to be able to recognize that as a teacher,” explained Allen. “You’ve got to be able to say, ‘ok this kid needs that supply’, just simple stuff like ‘hey where’s your notebook today’, common stuff where a backpack would help that kid show up with everything that day. That’s what I see in my class.”

“Burst the Bus” is accepting school supply donations through the weekend until Monday morning. Visit their Facebook page for more.

TCUGM is taking school supply and clothing donations until August 25th. Head to their Facebook page to learn more.

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