Some celebrate by throwing away their old papers marked with grades in red ink and saying goodbye to old textbooks they won’t need anymore.
But one thing the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and AmeriCorps VISTA hope parents and kids won’t discard during these summer months are backpacks. The two organizations are working together to collect and recycle students’ old bags to help “children in transition,” or those who are living in homeless or temporary shelters or awaiting foster care placement.
The program is also accepting three-ring dividers.
“It’s being offered to children in transition who don’t have permanent stability, live in domestic violence shelters or in hotel or motels or even couch-hop with friends and neighbors,” said Jason Stancil, a volunteer with AmeriCorps.
The Washoe County School District identifies about 1,300 students as children in transition.
The Food Bank fills more than 300 backpacks weekly with enough food to feed the child and their family through the weekend. Items include high protein foods like chili and other kid-friendly favorites like macaroni and cheese, fruit roll-ups and pieces of fruit. The program is also available to high school students.
Stancil said the agencies hope to collect about 1,500 backpacks in all to accommodate children in need.
“The Food Bank does help identify through (Washoe County School District) the children and families relying on food for the week and may not have enough to supplement for the weekend,” Stancil said.
“We’ve had Hot August Nights donate and we’re looking for a donation from Jansport as well,” he said. “Because of the economy, many companies aren’t able to give as much as they’d like to with all the foreclosures and kids are being affected.”
Backpacks in fair to good condition will be accepted and can feature child-appropriate characters such as Dora the Explorer, he said.
The Food Bank has placed barrels for donations in several drop-off locations throughout the state. Participating businesses in Reno and Sparks include Laufen Tile and Stone, Travel @ Caughlin, Reno-Sparks Kiwanis Bike Program, California State Automobile Association AAA and Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. Donations can be made at any time based on the hours of business of the company that provides a drop-off point.
“Providing these children with food to take home on weekends provides them with good nutrition and helps the children return to school on Monday morning feeling good and ready to learn,” Stancil said.
Donors who would like to make a monetary contribution may do so as long as they mark their donation as “Backpack Kids.” The drive ends July 31.