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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Monroe County coalition's lofty mission: 1,000 backpacks of school supplies


MONROE - Getting school supplies into the hands of youngsters in Monroe County is the goal of the Backpack for Kids Coalition.

When mid-August comes around, the coalition hopes to fill 1,000 backpacks with grade-appropriate supplies and distribute them to boys and girls whose families might not be able to afford them.

But to do that, supplies of every type are needed, from erasers and crayons to pencils and note pads.

The coalition has put out the call for individuals, businesses, and organizations to donate to the drive, which began earlier this month.

Mike Smith, a coalition committee member, said donations will be accepted through Monday.

"We'd like people to donate some items to help stock these backpacks. We have put a number of donation receptacles throughout the county," said Mr. Smith, who is the AFL-CIO community services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County.

The roots of the coalition and its annual campaign to solicit donations and distribute supplies go back to the 1990s.

More than 700 backpacks were given away last year to needy children.

"It's not a great expense for individuals, but there is a potential to collect a large amount of supplies if a lot of people do a little bit each," said Mr. Smith.

Donations receptacles were placed at Monroe County Library System branches, the Francis Family YMCA in Bedford Township, and the Monroe County YMCA.

In addition, receptables were placed at the Bedford Public Schools administration building, the county's department of human services, the Bedford Township hall, Luna Pier City Hall, Detroit Edison's Monroe Power Plant, the Wal-Mart Vision Center, Monroe Missionary Baptist Church, Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, and Mercy Memorial Hospital.

Items needed include book bags, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, erasers, pens, crayons, scissors, loose-leaf paper, spiral notebooks, paper for kindergarten through second grade, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks or bottles, calculators, compasses, rulers, three-ring binders, binder dividers, and folders.

Families seeking supplies and packs for their children can sign up at the Salvation Army, Department of Human Services, Monroe County Opportunity Program, Arthur Lesow Community Center, local food banks, and school offices.

The coalition will distribute the backpacks from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Francis Family YMCA in Bedford and from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Arthur Lesow Community Center in Monroe.

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