Leaders of Phoenix nonprofits are reporting that more children than usual need help with back-to-school supplies this summer. The reasons include higher prices for many products as well as students resuming in-person learning in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Jodie Sprayberry, CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, which cares for children in foster care, said the organization has received more calls for basic needs such as diapers, wipes , backpacks, school supplies and clothing.
“There has been a transformation in our programmatic tendencies where the heaviest program for us has typically been the beds and cribs,” Sprayberry said. “Basic needs are not being met in our community, and their needs are very desperate.”
Last year, the group donated 1,000 backpacks to students during their back-to-school campaign. This year, it has distributed more than 2,000 since January 1. It has started distributing backpacks year round to better serve foster children who, on average, undergo 10 household changes during their stay in foster care. With so many changes of domicile, children can attend multiple schools in a year, Sprayberry said.
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How to donate this weekend
The Salvation Army’s family services office in Phoenix received double the number of inquiries about school supplies this year compared to 2020, said Scott Johnson, director of public relations. During the organization’s back-to-school campaign throughout July, the Salvation Army Metro Phoenix and its community partners filled 6,300 backpacks with school supplies.
“We’re just trying to help as many kids as possible,” Johnson said. “Whatever we do, the need always outweighs the resources we have.”
The Salvation Army is partnering with Walmart for the annual Stuff the Bus event August 6-8. People can visit local Walmart stores to buy or drop off school supplies for children in need. People can also donate online.
Phoenix Rescue Mission saw a 50% increase in backpack distribution from 2020, said Ryan Brown, the organization’s public relations and marketing manager. Last year, the group donated 451 backpacks. In this year’s back-to-school campaign, he handed out 638 of them. Last year, he handed out 430 pairs of shoes and socks; 800 were distributed this year.
Unlike in previous years, Brown said the band did not need to be recorded this year, which contributed to the high turnout.
Higher prices aren’t the only factor behind the increased needs, said Lauren Sullivan, communications manager at Harvest Compassion Center. Many people in the Phoenix metro area have lost their jobs or had sick relatives to care for, preventing them from working and earning money, she said.
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The pandemic has increased the needs of many families
As of August 6, 2021, Harvest Compassion Center had distributed 850 backpacks; it distributed 755 of them in 2020. Since July 15, the association has distributed around 45 backpacks a day, six days a week. Sullivan said more families also need back-to-school shoes.
“With COVID and the pandemic going on for so long, we haven’t been surprised by the need just because we’ve seen it for so long,” Sullivan said. “Families came and said, ‘Well my husband is in the hospital and can’t work, I have zero income.’”
Sullivan also said some parents’ working hours had been drastically reduced during the pandemic, creating an increased need for families to find school supplies outside of stores.
Southwest Human Development, a nonprofit that serves more than 135,000 children each year, said while it hasn’t seen an increase in needs, it has seen more parents anxious to send back. their students at school, said Annette Sutfin, senior director of philanthropic experiences at Southwest.
Because most students have not attended school in person since the start of the pandemic, parents must re-equip their children to return to class, she said.
“More than anything, we all want our children to be happy, healthy and successful, and giving them the tools to go back to school with some confidence is one of the best things I think we can do to help. help them get ready to do this, ”Sutfin said.
Where you can donate back-to-school supplies
Nonprofits in the Phoenix metro area are in need of donations for this school year. Here are some places you can donate.
- Salvation Army Phoenix,https://www.salvationarmyphoenix.org
- Crop Compassion Center, 4744 E. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix. 602-788-2444, https://harvestcompassioncenter.org.
- Arizona Helping Hands, https://azhelpinghands.org.
- Phoenix rescue mission, 3440 W. Lewis Ave., Building A, Phoenix. 602-346-3347 https://phoenixrescuemission.org, https://phxmission.org/b2s.
- Human Development of the South West, 2850 N. 24th St., Phoenix. 602-266-5976 https://www.swhd.org.
- Phoenix Support League, 9224 N. Fifth St., Phoenix. 602-944-7636, http://www.alphx.org.
Contact the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram @ sofia.krusmark.