The first day of school will look much different this year for many U.S. students who will meet their new teachers and classmates virtually, as distance learning begins. In some areas, students returning to campuses have added a new set of facemasks to their typical back-to-school wardrobe.
However, one thing remains the same, as GSF Foundation’s Back(pack) to School program supports students in need preparing for the school year ahead. This summer, Foundation volunteers from 16 local committees help set students up for success by donating 8,485 backpacks filled with essential learning supplies.
“Whether they’re learning in a classroom or at home, these school supplies will support kids’ academic success,” Vanessa Hugon, GSF Foundation’s Program & Development Specialist. “It’s just amazing to see our associates come together to make this program happen, despite all the obstacles this year. Kids need us now more than ever, and our volunteers have stepped up to help and make a big impact!”
Since 2002, GSF Foundation’s Back(pack) to School program has provided more than 137,000 backpacks to first grade students in need across the U.S., so they can begin the school year ready to learn. Donating these academic necessities to at-risk children also promotes and encourages attendance, while boosting self-confidence.
Adjusting for current circumstances related to the Coronavirus pandemic, some committees have ordered pre-stuffed backpack kits, while others pivoted plans to coordinate home-assembly efforts. Maintaining social distancing guidelines and safety protocols, volunteers have organized backpack distributions with beneficiary schools through drop-offs or drive-throughs.
In its fifth consecutive year of Back(pack) to School participation, the GSF Foundation committee in KanPak Penn Yan, New York has donated 1,400 backpacks this year—the biggest amount among all participating committees—to local school children. Newly established local GSF Foundation committees in Frisco, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah have jump-started their community support efforts with first-time participation in the Back(pack) to School program.Supporting this year’s backpack donations, business partners include Craftsmen Utility Trailer, Gateway Industrial Power, Morning Star Packing Company, and Taylor Farms Texas. These partnerships augment the generous contributions of GSF associates, which fund Back(pack) to School and the Foundation’s other core programs to help improve the quality of life of children and families.