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July 23, 2013

School supply drive helps prepare needy kids for fall

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — When parents shop the back-to-school sales that have already begun to hit the shelves at many local stores, Rochester Area Neighborhood House Executive Director Linda Riggs hopes they will pick up a few extra school supplies to give to children in need.

Founded in 1968, Neighborhood House — a private, nonprofit organization that assists families in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township and Addison Township — recently kicked off its annual school supply drive.

Last year, Riggs said, Neighborhood House helped more than 400 children with back-to-school supplies, and she expects even more families will seek assistance this year. The agency also provides emergency financial assistance, utility assistance, short-term counseling, job coaching, budget programming, a food pantry, clothes, transportation and more.

“We’re seeing an increasing need in the community and we just want to be sure that we can meet the need,” she said. “People don’t realize that we have a lot of folks who are just living paycheck to paycheck, so back-to-school time is really difficult. Kids want to have the same cool clothes and notebooks and everything else that their friends have, so sometimes we find that our families, instead of paying money on the rent or the utility bills, want to keep their kids happy and buy them the things they need for school instead. This drive alleviates that, so we know families won’t have to worry about it. They can get all the supplies they need and use their money more appropriately.”

Those interested in helping can purchase and donate school supply items for a child in need through Aug. 9. 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 to 18.

Donations can be dropped off at Ram’s Horn, 1990 S. Rochester Road; Bar Louie, 1488 N. Rochester Road; Oakland Optometry, 4970 N. Adams Road; Ducharme Chiropractic, 111 Rochdale Drive; Mario’s Barber Hair Styling Salon, 2955 Walton Blvd.; Clothes Closet, 44 Mill St.; Neighborhood House administrative offices, 1234 Inglewood; and during Wet and Wild Wednesdays at Van Hoosen Farms.

The school supplies will be distributed to children in need Aug. 17 during the second 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.

Audrey Kuzma, volunteer coordinator for RANH, said the Neighborhood House is currently looking for volunteers to help sort items the day before the event, on Friday, Aug. 16.

“Whatever supplies we get, we need sorted. We need the binders put in one spot, we need loose-leaf paper sorted over here, we need pencils sorted with other pencils, and everything lined up so that as each child comes in on Saturday, Aug. 17, volunteers can help them select what they need for each grade level,” she said.

For more information or to volunteer, call (248) 651-5836 or email volunteer@ranh.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.