Editorial: Help Children in Need Go Back to School Prepared

Editorial: Help Children in Need Go Back to School Prepared

Many opportunities to contribute; tax-free back-to-school shopping is Aug. 5-7 across Virginia.

We live in an area where many, if not most, families have the means and desire to do almost whatever it takes to give their children the best chances for success.

But for thousands of students, families lack the financial resources to equip them for success on the first day of school and beyond.

In our affluent area, there are many poor families, families who are barely making it, families who are not able to indulge their children in a shopping spree before school begins, families who are already having trouble making up for the meals their children would be getting at school.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, more than 27 percent of more than 184,000 students are poor enough to qualify for subsidized meals. That’s more than 50,000 children in Fairfax County who are going through the summer without their usual access to breakfast and lunch. In some schools, volunteers pack snacks for the students to take home on weekends. For many of those children, having a fully equipped backpack on the first day of school is out of reach.

In the City of Alexandria, about 60 percent of the Alexandria Public Schools students are poor enough to qualify for subsidized meals. That’s more than 8,000 of the city’s 13,000-plus students.

In Arlington, more than 32 percent of the county’s 23,000-plus students are poor enough to receive subsidized meals; more than 7,000 students.

Help these students get started on the right foot by contributing to one of the many local backpack drives.

The Virginia sales tax holiday for school supplies and clothing (and preparedness and energy savers) is Aug. 4-6. This is a little extra savings that could be paid forward to students in need.

The three-day sales tax holiday starts the first Friday in August at 12:01 a.m. and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 p.m. During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear; hurricane and emergency preparedness items; Energy Star and WaterSense products without paying sales tax.

Each eligible individual school supply item must be priced at $20 or less, and each eligible article of clothing and footwear must be priced at $100 or less. For other details see www.tax.virginia.gov/virginia-sales-tax-holiday

Where To Give in Arlington

  • Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is collecting backpacks and supplies for more than 550 children living in APAH apartments. APAH is looking for volunteers willing to donate a backpack or two for the students who live in one of APAH’s 15 apartment buildings. For these families, the cost of these supplies can be burdensome.

For more information or to see the list of backpack and supply needs, please email Julie Booth, volunteer program manager, at jbooth@apah.org.

Drop off backpacks one of three days and locations:

Friday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., The Springs, 4318 N Carlin Springs Road, 22203;

Tuesday, Aug. 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Springs, 4318 N Carlin Springs Road, 22203; or

Wednesday, Aug. 9, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Arlington Mill Residences, 901 S Dinwiddie St.


Where To Give in Alexandria

Alexandria City Public Schools holds an annual Back to School Supply Drive for students across Alexandria City. The goal is to provide supply-filled backpacks to 2,000 ACPS students who would not otherwise be able to start the first day of school with these essential items. For more information, contact Taneika Tukan at 703-619-8055 or taneika.tukan@acp...

Three ways to help right now:

  1. Sign up today to become a public collection site where members of the community can drop off donations of backpacks and supplies;

  2. Organize an internal drive among your staff and supporters; and/or

  3. Mail a check payable to Alexandria City Public Schools and mail to the ACPS FACE Center at 1340 Braddock Place, 7th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314 by Aug. 12.

A list of drop off sites will be available soon.

Coordinated by the FACE Center.

What is FACE? “The ACPS Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Center creates meaningful opportunities and resources for families to work with schools to ensure every child succeeds. We collaborate with experts in our school buildings and community to strengthen family-school partnerships that increase two-way communication, cultural understanding, and academic achievement.”

Where To Give in Fairfax County

  • Fairfax County Collect for Kids is a public private partnership that provides local children from economically challenged families with the school supplies they need to begin the school year, and has provided more than 100,000 supply kits and backpacks since 2010. Collect for Kids is made possible through a partnership with Kids R First, Fairfax County Public Schools, the Fairfax County Office of Public and Private Partnerships, Apple Federal Credit Union and numerous community-based organizations (some listed here) and businesses in the Fairfax County area who are working together to provide supplies in a more cost-effective and efficient way. See collectforkids.org/resources.

  • Cornerstones will work to provide backpacks and other necessities to 3,000 Reston and Herndon area students. You can buy backpacks and other items online and have them delivered to Cornerstones. Or deliver the backpacks to Cornerstones Administrative Office Aug. 7-11, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210, Reston. In addition to backpacks, Cornerstones also requests donations of new underwear for elementary school age children, and Payless gift card donations ($25) so young clients can get a new pair of shoes. Contact Cornerstones at 571-323-9568 or volunteer@cornerstonesva.org. Visit www.cornerstonesva.org/donations/drives/back-to-school/

  • United Community Ministries annual Back to School campaign is underway. Donations are needed by Friday, Aug. 4. A gift of $40 completely outfits one student. Please drop checks and backpacks off at UCM’s main office (7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria, 22306) weekdays from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For more information, contact Emily Griffin at emily.griffin@ucmagency.org or by 571-255-8973 or visit www.ucmagency.org/back-to-school-2017.html.

  • Britepaths, participates in the Collect for Kids Back to School Program each summer and is working to help more than 2,500 students in central Fairfax have everything they need to succeed this fall. Cash donations help purchase supplies at a steep discount. Donate backpacks or calculators by Aug. 5. Larger size backpacks especially needed. Donate cash through Aug. 31. Checks are welcome. Make checks payable to "Britepaths," write BTS in the memo line of the check. Mail to: Britepaths 4080 Chain Bridge Road, 2nd Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030. If delivering in person, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., except for holidays. Call 703-273-8829. Visit www.britepaths.org for more.

Drop-off sites until Aug. 5:

— Cinema Arts Theatre At Fair City Mall, 9650-14 Main St, Fairfax, VA 22031

— Cox Farms 15621 Braddock Road, Centreville, VA 20120

— Del. Kathleen Murphy Constituent Office, 6888 Elm St., Ste 1C, McLean, VA 22101

— GAP Solutions, Inc. 205 Van Buren St, Herndon, VA 20170; Drop off in Suite 205

— Gathering Grounds Cafe At University Mall, 10637 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

— Dr. Gene Sweetnam, OD 5204A Rolling Road, Burke, VA 22015

— Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031

— Pure Performance 3805 Pickett Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

— Quest Diagnostics 14225 Newbrook Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151

— Solaris Laser and Skin Care 513 Maple Ave. W, Vienna, VA 22180

— Spine and Joint Institute 9990 Fairfax Blvd. #115, Fairfax, VA 22030

— STEM exCEL 4010 University Drive, #104, Fairfax, VA 22030

— Sugar Mama's Ice Cream 11208 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030

— Union Bank Burke 6050 Burke Commons Road, Suite A, Burke, VA 22015

— University Mall Theatre At University Mall, 10659 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032

— Westminster School's Camp Griffin 3819 Gallows Road, Annandale, VA 22003

  • FACETS is seeking to equip more than 300 students in need with backpacks filled with supplies. Use the checklist at the link below as a guide for purchasing backpacks and supplies. Place purchased supplies in backpacks or other bags and deliver to FACETS. Drop off supplies through Aug. 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, 10640 Page Ave., Suite 300, Fairfax VA 22030. Contact FACETS at 703-272-3710 or visit facetscares.org/summerbacktoschooldrive/

  • Northern Virginia Family Service is able to buy supplies at a value that beats retail price. Every $1 donated by July 27 can purchase $2 worth of school supplies. Mail checks (payable to NVFS, with BTS in the memo line) to: Northern Virginia Family Service, Attn: Back to School, 10455 White Granite Drive, Suite 100, Oakton, VA 22124. Donations of new backpacks and new school supplies will be accepted on Friday, July 28, and Monday, July 31, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 13868 Metrotech Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151 (between Lotus Vegetarian and PetSmart – our storefront has whitewashed windows). www.nvfs.org/support/back-to-school/

  • Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools www.fcpsfoundation.org/donate.html accepts online donations only – to purchase school supplies in bulk quantity

  • Apple Federal Credit Union www.applefcu.org/appleweb/collectforkids accepts online donations and backpack donations at local branches.

  • Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Offices will be collecting backpacks during the month of August. See website for office locations and hours of operation. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/about-the-board-of-supervisors.htm

  • Fairfax County Public Schools Backpack donations at the Gatehouse and Willow Oaks Administrative office locations. www.fcps.edu/

  • Western Fairfax Christian Ministries accepts online donations and backpacks donations. Check website for more details. Deliver Backpacks to WFCM (July 17-Aug. 11, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.) to WFCM’s Office at 4511 Daly Drive, Suite J, Chantilly, VA 20151. Please bring backpacks to the back door of the Food Pantry. wfcmva.org/how-you-can-help/annual-backpack-program/