Most Needed Items:
WOWT NBC Omaha, along with First National Bank and Papillion's Shadow Lake Towne Center, stuffed a bus Saturday, collecting backpacks and supplies to help less fortunate children in our community go back to school.
First National Bank kicked off the donation drive by purchasing 100 backpacks. Donors were greeted by familiar faces from WOWT 6 News. The first 100 donors received $5 gift cards to Shadow Lake and kids got free balloons from the Amazing Arthur.
Donors like Geri Dowse said that's not what brought them. “So then that way they can get the best education they can get. So that way they can focus and concentrate and not worry about where their notebook is going to come from or where their pencil is going to come from, so they have what they need."
Children brought donations, too. Brittany Fahrenkrog wanted her children to realize what the need for help looks like. “I think the younger you start teaching your kids to give back, the better this community will be if we all kind of pitch in together early on, we'll just get more and more kids started on doing the right thing."
Partnership 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization that works inside Omaha schools with students on goal setting and mentoring, is handling the distribution of supplies. “Many of the families that we serve are on very tight budgets so a lot of times kids will start school with maybe one notebook and one folder and it's hard to stay really organized,” says Deb Denbeck with Partnership 4 Kids.
Sending children back to school is a financial burden for many struggling families. According to the National Retail Federation's annual survey, the average family with kids in grades kindergarten through high school will spend $669.28, up five percent from last year.
“Being a single parent, trying to make the dollar stretch, having limited resources, it's a very tight budget so every little bit helps,” says Tony Armendariz, who’s also paying for one college student.
Son Alejandro Armendariz was accepted into a selective middle school mentor program. His grades have gone up just by getting tutoring and guidance. The seventh-grader says having the extra help can give children a leg up in school. “Some kids are in need of school supplies and resources and their parents either don't have the resources or just choose not to buy them, so it would really help them out."
Partnership 4 Kids program director Nick Sasada has seen students try to work with very little. "They may start off with one notebook and one folder and try to organize all the materials in one spot, which just doesn't work well for them, so to some of those students who need the extra resources we can definitely be a boost.”
Some of the items needed most included backpacks, hand sanitizer, calculators, notebooks, pens and pencils. “Organization is very key for our students,” says Sasada. “We need to make sure, especially for our brand new middle school students, it's a big jump from elementary to middle school, so we need to make sure they have all the supplies that they need so that they can feel ready for those changes.
If you couldn't make it Saturday, you can still drop off supplies at First National Bank in Shadow Lake Towne Center.