Donations for school supply drive collected through Aug. 9

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 23, 2019

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The Rochester Area Neighborhood House, in partnership with Ascension Providence Rochester and the Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan, is hosting the Blast Off 2 School school supply drive to provide school supplies, back-to-school clothing and over 400 backpacks to children in need.

Individuals, organizations and businesses can help by donating school supplies through Aug. 9.

“It empowers the community to be part of this program and know they are helping someone get a clean, fresh start to school,” said Kathy Losinski, the executive director of Neighborhood House.

The following items are especially needed, according to Neighborhood House officials: binders, spiral notebooks, index cards, highlighters, markers, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, pens and more. For the full wish list, visit www.ranh.org/wish-list.

School supplies can be dropped off at Ram’s Horn, 1990 S. Rochester Road in Rochester Hills; the Assistance League Resale Connection, 204 S. Main St. in Rochester; the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Towne Road in Rochester; Stewart Real Estate Team, 405 S. Main St., second floor, in Rochester; and any Neighborhood House location — including the main office at 1720 S. Livernois Road in Rochester Hills and the clothes closet at 44 Mill St. in Rochester.

The Blast Off 2 School event will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Neighborhood House office. Eligible families must register by Aug. 8 and choose an appointment time to pick up their supplies.

“We had about 480 kids come through last year,” said Losinski. “The kids shop on their own while their parents wait in the waiting room, so we are helping to nurture some independence with the kids, as well as giving them a good start to the school year, and it’s pretty fun to be there.”

The program is free for families with children ages 4-18 who qualify for Medicaid, or free and reduced lunch programs, and who live within the Neighborhood House service area of Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Oakland Township, Leonard and Lakeville.

“We serve over 3,000 households a year, and the need is great,” Losinski said. “Studies show that there are over 12,000 households in our service area that could really utilize our services, so while we are serving many, we always need the resources to serve more.”

Last year, she said, an 11-year-old boy had his first physical because of the program, which also gives families the option of signing up for health assessments during the event.

Michele Knoblauch, a volunteer coordinator for Neighborhood House, said the nonprofit’s many volunteers — who sort through donated supplies and assemble packages to be picked up by grade level, and also assist children with collecting supplies — help make the event a success each year.

“Volunteers at the Neighborhood House are critical to the success of our organization. Each week over 100 volunteers donate their time to help support our organization. For the Blast Off 2 School program, we have 110 volunteers to just support this event.  Our volunteers are key to helping us support our community,” she said.

To register for the event, visit www.ranh.org/get-help or call (248) 651-5836, ext. 21. To volunteer for Neighborhood House, email volunteer@ranh.org or call (248) 651-5836, ext. 15.

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