Sheyenne Davis, 5, of Toledo marvels at her new backpack with her mother, Brandy Baker. Volunteers Jerrae McGee, right, and Marcus Lezey, were giving out backpacks at the Salvation Army’s annual Tools for School distribution. Huntington Bank donated more than 1,800 backpacks.
School supplies clattered as hundreds of children happily hoisted new backpacks at the Salvation Army’s annual Tools for School distribution Wednesday.
For 14 years, just before the start of school, local Salvation Army stores have hosted the event to help children in need get school supplies.
This year, Huntington Bank donated more than 1,800 backpacks to Tools for School.
Each backpack was filled with school supplies from The Anderson’s and from donations from an OfficeMax drive and elsewhere.
Each backpack also contained two $25 Anderson’s gift cards.
“Today is an opportunity to provide backpacks and supplies to parents having a hard time making ends meet. There is a lot to pay for and some are struggling already with basic needs,” Salvation Army Northwest Ohio area coordinator Captain Tawny Cowen-Zanders said.
Huntington Bank compiles an annual “backpack index,” which tracks the costs of school supplies and activities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Jason Bartschy, right, on the The Salvation Army Board of Directors, gets backpacks to hand out during The Salvation Army’s Annual “Tools for Schools” Distribution at The Salvation Army on August 13, 2014. Huntington Bank has donated more than 1,800 backpacks to give to local families in need, with The Anderson’s and the community donating additional supplies. Volunteers Jerrae McGee, center, and Marcus Veley, back left, help hand-out backpacks during the event.
The 2014 report showed back-to-school expenditures will average $642 for elementary school children, up 11 percent from last year.
For middle school children, the report said the average expenditure is $918, a 20 percent increase from 2013.
And for high school students the bank’s figure is $1,284, a 5 percent increase compared with 2013.
The Salvation Army required parents to sign up for the event ahead of time.
To be eligible, a family had to have an annual household income of no more than 200 percent above the poverty line, which is about $47,700 for a family of four, said Amy Anthony, Salvation Army director of social services.
For a family of eight, 200 percent of the federal poverty line is $80,180.
She said organizers allow some families with an income above the eligibility to participate under special circumstances.
Captain Cowen-Zanders estimated that 900 children had been signed up for Wednesday’s drive in downtown Toledo.
Across the region, about 1,700 children had been signed up.
“Kids who are prepared to go to school, want to go to school,” Captain Cowen-Zanders said.
She said the goal is to help children in need feel just like everyone else at school.
Melissa Meyers, the mother of four boys who attend Riverside Elementary, returned to Tools for School for the second year.
“It’s a godsend. It helps an awful lot,” she said.