Pam Fruit, the backpack coordinator for Centreville Baptist Church, poses with some of the more than 150 backpacks her church provided last year via WFCM for students in need at London Towne Elementary. The photo was taken on delivery day.
It’s challenging being a poor child in Fairfax County who’ll go back to school this fall hungry, wearing old clothes and without backpacks and school supplies. So WFCM (Western Fairfax Christian Ministries) is doing all it can to help.
It operates a food pantry for local families in need, plus a thrift shop where they can purchase clothing for a small amount. And now, for the fourth year, WFCM is partnering with the county, Fairfax County Public Schools and several local, nonprofit organizations to provide high-quality, school backpacks via the county’s Collect for Kids Back to School program.
But to make it work, WFCM needs community residents, businesses and other groups to open up their hearts and their wallets and either donate the backpacks or the funds with which to purchase them.
“WFCM’s goal is to provide backpacks for 2,000 qualified, needy children who attend schools in the Centreville High School, Chantilly High School and Westfield High School pyramids,” said Jennie Bush, WFCM community outreach manager. “In 2013, WFCM assisted 1,995 children in those schools. Due to continued demand, WFCM is looking to slightly increase its program capacity this year in hopes of assisting every child who needs a backpack.”
The most-needed backpack size is a larger one for high-school students. It should have at least two compartments to hold multiple books and binders and should be 18-19 inches tall, 13 inches wide and 8-10 inches deep.
Another nonprofit, KidsRFirst, will provide the school supplies to fill the donated backpacks.
“It is incredible to think that 50,000 students in Fairfax County Public Schools receive free or reduced-price meals,” said Bush. “Their parents are struggling to put food on the table, and the prospect of buying backpacks and school supplies is stressful for them. So we hope the community will respond generously, as they have in the past, to ensure that children whose families are in crisis are able to return to school this fall with all the tools they need to succeed.”
She said WFCM is grateful to those sponsoring the 2014 Collect for Kids Back to School program, including KidsRFirst, and to the many supporting churches and businesses who join with WFCM to provide backpacks to students in need in Centreville and Chantilly schools.
Donated new backpacks may be brought to WFCM’s Client Services Office and Food Pantry at 13888 Metrotech Drive in Chantilly (next to Papa John’s Pizza), Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Wednesday and Thursday, 4-7 p.m., until Aug. 13.
For suggestions on where to purchase backpacks, and the sizes requested, go to www.WFCMVA.org. For more information on donating or sponsoring a school, contact Bush at email@example.com.
The nonprofit WFCM is a volunteer-based organization focused on easing the struggles of low-income families in western Fairfax County. Besides offering food and clothing, it provides emergency financial assistance for rent and utility-bill payments.
It addition, WFCM runs several financial literacy programs, including financial mentoring; free, monthly budgeting classes; and free financial counseling. For information, contact 703-988-9656 or visit www.WFCMVA.org.
Community members interested in helping support WFCM programs may contribute via its secure Web site or mail checks to: WFCM, P.O. Box 220802, Chantilly, VA 20153.