Every year, VCUM’s backpack drive gathers school supplies and backpacks that are donated by the community. These contributions are given to children from low-income families or those who are otherwise unable to afford basic school supplies.
Each backpack is loaded with school essentials like a binder, a pair of scissors, a notebook, and even a gift card for a new pair of shoes, said VCUM Operations Director Linda Lovelace.
Lovelace said that the backpack drive was started by the organization’s founder, the late Annette Marcum, who began the program about 25 years ago.
“It was much lower-key in the beginning,” she said. “Now it has blossomed into a full-blown project that I just love.”
Preregistration began July 1, and is required for those seeking assistance by the program, she said. Registration is started early to help as many students as possible.
To be eligible, Lovelace said, clients need to register in person at VCUM with a valid physical mailing address (no P.O. boxes). Parents are also required to bring their child’s report card.
For those already registered, distribution of backpacks begins next week on Tuesday, Aug. 19 and will continue through September.
“Approximately 200 people donated last year, which includes money and items,” said VCUM Financial Secretary Lisa Baumert.
Community members can donate school supplies or money throughout the year. A $40 donation will support a student for a year and includes the voucher for a new pair of shoes.
During the month of August, any cash donation up to $5,000 is matched dollar for dollar by a pledged grant. This allows for a $40 donation to support two students for the price of one.
“We keep backpacks available for the kids at Christmastime,” Lovelace said, “because sometimes we have kids that write their Santa letters asking for school supplies.”
VCUM served backpacks to 223 Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley students in 2013, she said, with more expected this year.
For the last 3 years, Scotts Valley Host Lions club has contributed 20 filled backpacks to the program, Baumert said.
A group of community members consisting of Syd Carlson, Ken and Pat Bont, and Peg Davis are dedicated to preparing the backpack for dispersal.
Lovelace said that local support and donations from businesses, organizations, and churches are what make the distributions possible and gives children an equal chance to succeed in school.
“It’s one of my favorites, anything we do with the kids,” she said. “Especially when we are enhancing their chances of a good education.”
VCUM is still seeking donations. For a list of needed school supplies, contact Valley Churches United Missions at 336-8258 or visit www.vcum.org
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