By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – As students begin enjoying their summer break, the United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) has started preparing its annual Tools for Schools program. For over 15 years, the program has provided children with backpacks full of grade-appropriate supplies for their return to school. Last year, UWTC partnered with 28 companies and 17 community agencies to distribute 738 backpacks for students in kindergarten through grade 12, 370 of which were in Marlborough.
Overseeing the program at the Marlborough Community Cupboard (MCC) in the Walker Building is Barbara LaGrenada, director of volunteerism.
“Every year the need seems to increase,” she said. “We provide the backpacks to families who otherwise wouldn's be able to afford them to get their kids ready for school. The community agencies we work with know the guidelines and they feel the same way we do; we want to make sure that the right children get these backpacks.”
There are several ways that businesses, organizations and individuals can help including a monetary donation for UWTC to purchase a backpack with supplies. The cost of a filled backpack is $25. Donations by credit card can be made online at uwotc.org/backpack.
Another option is to sponsor a child by providing a filled backpack. UWTC will provide a list of grade-appropriate supplies along with the recipient's first name, age, gender and the student's backpack design request. The filled backpacks can be picked up by volunteers or delivered to MCC.
Businesses are encouraged to conduct a school supply drive at a central location. UWTC will provide collection boxes, email blurbs and additional materials to support the drive. The donated supplies can also be picked up by volunteers or delivered to MCC.
Volunteers are needed to assist with sorting supplies and assembling backpacks; matching requests with donations; picking up donations from corporate partners; and making deliveries to community agencies.
The backpacks will be distributed to students the week of Monday, Aug. 11. LaGrenada knows from firsthand experience that volunteers will be rewarded by the reaction of the backpack recipients.
“I always enjoy seeing the smiles on the kids” faces when they get the backpacks that they requested,” she said.
For more information about helping with Tools for Schools, contact Barbara LaGrenada at 508-370-4902 or [email protected].