Free School Supplies Demand Increases, Donations Decrease

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

It's the most basic of back to school necessities that mid-Michigan families are struggling to provide for their kids.

"Because of the economy in Michigan, it seems to cause families to really reach out," said Carolyn Stone of the Lansing School District.

In fact, the Capital Area United Way says 211 calls for requests for help with school supplies increased 85 percent from last year and requests for back to school clothing increased 25 percent.

"What they're saying is because of the economy budgets are stretched really thin, a lot of parents are unemployed right now, and they just don't have the funds available," said Suzanne Eman-Jaehnig of the Capital Area United Way.

Wednesday the Lansing School District got a bit of help with the demand -- receiving dozens of boxes of school supplies from MSU's fill the bus drive, but even with the help they say donations have diminished.

"In years past we have always tried to at least supply 3,000 school supply bags, I think we're under that this year, just because of the budget cuts," said Stone.

While agencies like the Black Child and Family Institute have collected nearly 200 backpacks, many of them are still empty because they just don't have the supplies to fill them.

"Not even quite half of them are filled, so we're still very much in need of basic back to school supplies," said Program Director Jennifer McCoy.

Their goal was to collect 400 backpacks before Saturday, and with only half of that goal completed, McCoy says they're calling on the community to step in.

"We really need people to step up and provide dictionaries and protractors," McCoy said.

"We'll take whatever we can get," Stone said.


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