WCS ramping up for return to school with its backpack program

With August waning, Woolwich Community Services has its eyes on September, when back to school might actually mean kids return to the classroom. The organization has its backpack program in full swing.

Now running for 18 years, the WCS program aids low-income families, providing backpacks, lunch bags, pencils and related school supplies. The goal is to help children go back to school with a smile on their faces.

“We’ve started taking in donations now. What we do is we offer kids from JK to high school, and even kids that are in college – if they need some items as well, we can help them out – get backpacks and school supplies. That includes lunch bags, water bottles, scissors, calculators, if they need them, markers, pencil cases – whatever they need to start their school year,” said Tina Reed, program support coordinator at Woolwich Community Services.

This annual fundraiser for students has been going on in the community since 2003.

“Even when the kids were doing school from home, they still needed supplies. They may not have needed a backpack, but they still needed paper and the crayons and markers and all those things to be able to work from home,” added Reed.

The program requires users to register in advance. They’ll be given a date to come into the office and pick up their supplies.

“We’re doing time slots just to be able to keep everybody distanced and safe during COVID. We don’t have a specific day anymore – it’s not a drop in anymore, we have people register now.

“It’s the second last week in August and then that still gives them time to purchase any things that are class-specific. We want to make sure they also have that time before school starts, and to still make it out to the stores,” she explained.

The items most in need this year as WCS solicits donations include backpacks, lunch bags and water bottles. Reed pointed out that backpacks for older students are usually among their most-needed items.

“We usually have over 120 kids that we supply. We do believe in choice, so that’s one of the reasons we allow parents to bring their kids with them to come pick up because even though we’re doing the registration, we let the kids pick up their backpack, binder, pencil case, lunch pail,  that type of thing,  because that’s the exciting part about going to school is kind of adding your own personality to what you pick,” noted Reed, excited to be helping kids in the community.

Despite the pandemic, WCS hasn’t seen any increased demand for school supplies, she noted.

To qualify for the backpack program, parents and children must be residents of Woolwich Township. Parents can register at the WCS office, 5 Memorial Ave. in Elmira.

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