MONTROSE – School is about to start, and some Montrose County families will have a hard time buying school supplies for their kids.
But Alpine Bank is trying to do something about it, and is spearheading a “Tools for Schools’ drive to collect school supplies and cash donations to fill 200 backpacks with supplies for the coming year.
Carolee Hawkins, who is heading up the program at the bank, said the cost of school supplies can add up. Supplies for all grade levels are needed, so people can just go to the school supply section of local stores and load up. Cash is good too, she said.
“We need pens and colored pencils, notebooks, crayons, and backpacks are definitely needed,” she said. “We’re also taking monetary donations. Just drop it by Alpine Bank.”
Hawkins said the bank is working with several nonprofits and the county’s Department of Health and Human Services to make sure the backpacks full of supplies go to the kids who need them the most.
Last year, the backpacks were distributed at Youth Appreciation Day in August, she said, which didn’t have the same controls and won’t be repeated.
The collection drive started this week and will run through Aug. 20. Hawkins is hoping to have another “great response” like last year.
“We are so thankful that we had a ton of donations,” she said. “We had over $500 in monetary donations, and a lot gave different amounts.”
Hawkins is getting a lot of help from Gayle Davidson, director of Partners and chair of the Drug Endangered Children committee for the Coalition for a Drug Free Montrose.
Many agencies are involved in getting needed supplies to students, Davidson said, including Court Appointed Special Advocates, local pediatric doctors, and Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club.
Hawkins said the donation drive is also comparing notes with Tandem Families, a program of Hilltop Resources that focuses on parenting classes and services for families, and which is also conducting a school supply drive.
“We’re working with them for non-duplication, because our focus this year is to make sure that those in need are taken care of,” she said.
Giving out the supplies at the youth day last year was “just too crazy” she said. The Boys and Girls Club gave out 500 free hamburgers, but people showed up at 9 a.m. when the event was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., so long lines formed.
“People were getting crabby and mad, and some said they wanted supplies for their cousins,” Davidson said. “We ran out of food, and we were trying to do a nice thing, but we were just making people mad.”
This year’s goal of 200 backpacks full of school supplies is the goal, and Davidson hopes enough donations and cash will make that possible.
“Almost all the kids need backpacks, and we get good deals, but it adds up really fast,” she said. “We’ll take whatever we can get in school supplies themselves, and we will try to get some more boxes out, maybe at Wal-Mart and Target and other places.”
The county Department of Human Services will work with the other agencies to make sure that the school supplies go to those who need them the most, Hawkins said.
“We are making sure that we are getting the school supplies to people who are really in need,” she said.