The Vienna Jaycees have a goal: Before school starts on Sept. 3, the group hopes to raise enough money to buy 50 new backpacks and fill them with school supplies. The backpacks will be dropped off at Vienna schools and distributed to children whose families can’t pay for supplies themselves.
About half of the Jaycees’ goal has already been accomplished. At a recent meeting, the group received a $750 check from Cox Communications. This is enough to pay for 50 backpacks, at $15 each. But now the group has to fill the bags.
"We received a donation of pencils from one local business, but we still haven’t gotten any monetary donations from any company besides Cox," said Karen Evans, member of the Vienna Jaycees.
Evans estimates it will cost around $20 to fill each bag with items like pens, pencils and notebooks. Group members have handed flyers about the back-to-school project to businesses and individuals throughout Vienna. Some have promised contributions, but the group has seen no money as of yet. The Jaycees are accepting donations for the back-to-school project until Saturday, Aug. 24. Any donations received after that date will be used for similar charitable projects.
The back-to-school drive was first suggested at a July meeting of the Jaycees. Group member Tammy Smith mentioned that she enjoyed the Adopt-a-Family program, during which group members buy Christmas presents for local families. Smith asked why the group didn’t take on similar projects throughout the year. The back-to-school drive was mentioned as an idea for an additional service project, and Smith was named chair of the effort.
Group members approached Cox Communications, which provides cable television service in the Vienna area. Alex Horwitz, director of public affairs with Cox, said the company gives millions of dollars in cash and in-kind contributions annually. He said the company tries to "reach every part of Fairfax."
"We have a long-standing commitment to supporting youth and education in the community," Horwitz said.
In order to identify the children most in need of the school supplies, the Jaycees enlisted the help of Community Helping Others. The group regularly helps needy families.
"Someone will come to them and say, ‘We have a seven-year old who needs a sweatshirt,’ or, ‘I need a tank of gas to go see my relatives.’"
To contribute to the back-to-school fund, send a check to The Vienna Jaycees, P.O. Box 291, Vienna VA 22183. Money, or donated goods, can also be dropped off at the Vienna Farmer’s Market. The next market will be on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 24, behind Vienna Town Hall on Center Street. Checks should be made payable to the Vienna Jaycees Foundation. Donations are tax deductible.