- Associated Press - Monday, August 7, 2017

MARBLEHEAD, Mass. (AP) - Students nationwide will begin school in September at a disadvantage, but SPUR is hoping to change that narrative.

SPUR Student Success aims to send Lynn, Swampscott, Salem and Marblehead kids off to the school year with an equal start by providing supplies and backpacks through their annual collection that kicked off this week.

SPUR, whose mission is to “spur” youth and adults on toward actions that build stronger communities through hands-on community service and enrichment programs.

Neighbors are asked to make a tax-deductible donation through August 18 to SPUR.

“Many parents and caregivers are constantly trying to keep their heads above water when it comes to providing food and shelter for their children,” said Sarah Roy, Salem Academy’s adjustment counselor. “The added expense of school supplies can often be overwhelming. Having caring and compassionate community members offer a gift like this allows them to exhale for a moment. They know that their child is starting a new school year with the same supplies as all of their peers and are prepared to focus on academics.”

This year, the nonprofit hopes to provide more than 600 children with the essentials for fall after school counselors, food pantry directors, social workers, and homeless education liaisons submitted names of children who would otherwise begin a new year empty-handed.

“Can you imagine the challenge parents’ face when they have to buy everything for school and they are already struggling to put food on the table,” Jocelyn Cook said, a SPUR representative. “Every child should have a fair start to the school year.”

There are lots of options for those interested in helping. Purchase a backpack and supplies for a K through 2nd grader ($54.26), a backpack and supplies for a 3rd through 5th grader ($66.48), a backpack and supplies for a 6th through 12th grader ($74.08), a backpack ($33.82), or just school supplies ($38.46)

Those who cannot commit to sponsoring an entire backpack or want to have a more hands-on involvement can volunteer when the order arrives and packaging the materials is needed.

Volunteers gather to package a variety of materials into these bags, including: pencils scissors, glue sticks, rulers, folders, washable markers, and more.

If you can’t afford a backpack or volunteer time, cash donations can be made to SPUR to purchase these items. You can also ask your dentist for things such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, or mail a gift card payable to SPUR to P.O Box 1274, Marblehead, with “backpack drive” in the memo.

The organization plans to use some of these funds to supply healthy snacks within the bags.

Children will also receive a heartfelt handwritten note from volunteers wishing them a promising school year.

Through community efforts last year, SPUR provided nearly 600 children with much-needed backpacks filled with supplies.

Supporters of the school system are highly appreciative of SPUR, their partners such as Jewish Community Center of the North Shore, and Marblehead Movers, and the hundreds of people who have donated.

“Thank you so much for the backpacks and supplies,” wrote Stephanie Rossi, social worker at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Lynn. “Because of your kindness and generosity, our students were able to start the school year confident and prepared.”


Online: https://bit.ly/2veH3yG


Information from: The (Lynn, Mass.) Daily Item, https://itemlive.com

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