Many of us remember the excitement of putting on special clothes, lacing up cool sneakers, and loading up new backpacks. But for so many children, the first day of school is nothing to be excited about. In many families throughout Arizona, there just isn’t enough money to make sure the school year starts off right.
For more than 50 years Back to School Clothing Drive has prepared high-need children throughout Arizona for a successful school year by providing them with new uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies. With the help of corporate sponsors, private donors, and thousands of caring volunteers more than 5,600 children are able to participate in a memorable day of back to school “shopping.” These three distribution events serve four deserving populations: students attending Title I schools, children in foster care, children affected by homelessness and transitional living, and students with parents in the military.
The majority are served at our “New Clothes, New Beginnings” event held each July at Grand Canyon University. Over the course of a week 4,351 children (3,189 from Title I schools and 1,162 in foster care) receive everything they need for school, including shorts, pants, shirts, socks, underwear, shoes, a belt, and a new backpack filled with school supplies and personal hygiene items. But we don’t stop there! Before summer ends, we hold two more distribution events. At Sequoia Secondary School we help close to 500 children affected by homelessness, and then it’s off to Luke Air Force Base to support more than 750 children who have one or both parents serving in the U.S. Air Force.
In addition to school clothes and supplies, each child at one of our events gets to pick out a hand-made accessory or article of clothing. These one-of-a-kind items are lovingly created by “Stitches of Love” – a volunteer group of seamstresses who sew all year to make sure every child in attendance gets to pick out something special.
Each of our events is designed with the child in mind. With the exception of LAFB, we institute a strict “Kids Only!” policy. Volunteers escort the children to each department to make sure everything fits and that they get what they like. Interactive stations are set up where students learn about healthy habits, meet special guests, and even get to pick out a book or two to take home.
These distribution events change lives. Every child that participates leaves with a big smile, a bag full of new clothes and supplies, and a renewed excitement about the first day of school. If you would like to help us reach more kids, please donate today, and if you want to see your donation at work, we encourage you to volunteer. We guarantee your life will be changed too!