ROCHESTER — School will be starting soon, and the Rochester Area Neighborhood House is once again looking for assistance with its school supply drive to assure that children in need have the proper supplies when they head back in September.
Last year, Rochester Area Neighborhood House Executive Director Linda Riggs said, Neighborhood House — a private, nonprofit organization that assists families in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township — helped more than 500 children with back-to-school supplies, and she expects even more low-income families will seek assistance this year.
“People don’t realize there are that many kids in the area who need help,” she said.
Neighborhood House Board Member Barb Cenko said in the past, the community has always been very generous — not only at back to school time, but around the holidays and throughout the year — so the agency wanted to remind folks that there are families that are still struggling to get by.
“Our community maybe isn’t aware of how many working families we have that are just barely getting by. Come school time, the cost of buying back to school clothing and getting shoes, as well as school supplies, can put quite a financial burden on a lot of these families. We want to provide these children with the same tools and opportunities that other kids have in our community,” she added.
Founded in 1968, Neighborhood House also provides emergency financial assistance, utility assistance, short-term counseling, job coaching, budget programming, a food pantry, clothes, transportation and more.
Those interested in helping with the school supply drive can purchase and donate items for a child in need through Aug. 18. Items needed include pens, pencils, colored pencils, washable markers, Sharpies, pocket folders with and without prongs, loose-leaf binders, wide and college-ruled paper, one- and three-subject-wide and college ruled notebooks, scissors, glue sticks, erasers, highlighters, rulers and backpacks for children ages 6-18.
“We like to make sure that every child gets what they need, whether it is a backpack, new pencils, scissors, paper, notebooks — whatever it might be,” Riggs explained.
Donations can be dropped off at the Auburn Hills Public Library, 3400 E Seyburn Drive; Neighborhood House administrative offices, 1234 Inglewood; Ram’s Horn, 1990 S. Rochester Road; Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Towne Road; Shelby Paint and Decorating, 1469 N Rochester Road; and Werner’s Hallmark, 4866 Adams Road.
The school supplies will be distributed to children in need Aug. 23 during the third annual Back-to-School Bonanza organized by KidzKare, a nonprofit affiliated with Kidz 1st Pediatrics in Rochester Hills. The event, held at the RARA Building at 500 E. Second St., will once again allow children up to 18 years old on Medicaid or without insurance in the Rochester Area Neighborhood House service area to receive a variety of services and products for free to prepare them to go back to school.
Neighborhood House is also looking for around 30 volunteers to help with the school supply drive.
“We need volunteers to pick up donations at our donation locations around town, people to help us with inventory, people to help us set up the night before the Back to School Bonanza, adults to escort children through the event to shop for their school supplies, and then a little help packing things up. Whatever things we do not give out, we will keep and give to these families throughout the year, as the need arises,” said Cenko, who also serves as volunteer coordinator for the school supply drive.
For more information or to volunteer, call (248) 651-5836 or visit www.ranh.org.