PHILADELPHIA, PA – Education is challenging but, when it comes to children in low-income and homeless conditions, just getting prepared for a new school year can prove insurmountable. For some time, Cradles to Crayons has provided school supplies year-round and United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania does so each summer. With thousands of additional families suffering financial blight from America’s present economic doldrums, the two charity organizations joined forces to deliver 15,000 free, fully loaded backpacks to needy students in Greater Philadelphia.
Together, rather than compete for scarce dollars, the charities hope to expand donations to achieve their critical summer objective. “Both programs were successful on their own, but,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO of UWSEPA, “1 + 1 doesn’t have to equal two; it can equal four. Collaboration and synergies among non-profits can have an even stronger impact. This partnership is about mobilizing and engaging this community to help even more children and youth in the region.”
“The sad reality,” added Cradles to Crayons’ Executive Director Michal Smith, “is that there are students in our community who show up on the first day of school with nothing. Our goal is to reach more students and to prepare them for the new school year reassured and confident that they’re equipped with every thing they need to be ready to learn.”
This joint effort has the support of ACE, MedRisk, Philadelphia Council AFL/CIO, the Philadelphia Zoo, and other institutions. Residents can boost such generosity with monetary donations to www.liveunitedsepa.org/stuffthebus or provide a $5 gift by texting “PhillySB” to 864833 (which equates to UNITED).
School supplies, such as 3-ring binders, loose-leaf paper, spinal notebooks, pencils, pens, and erasers are welcome and can be dropped at the following locations:
Cradles to Crayons Office at 30 Clipper Road in West Conshohocken Monday – Friday during the normal business hours of 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Hours are extended to 7:30 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, and 2nd Wednesday of the month. Weekend hours from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. occur the 1st Saturday of the month. A Pack-Rat storage unit is available in the parking lot for weekend and after-hours drop offs.
Hard Rock Café at 11th and Market Streets in Center City Philadelphia Friday evenings from 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. during July.
Philadelphia Council AFL/CIO on the 1st floor of 22 So. 22nd Street in Center City Philadelphia Monday – Friday during the normal business hours of 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
United Way of Southeastern PA at 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City Philadelphia Monday – Friday during the normal business house of 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
UPS Customer Center at 1500 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia Monday – Friday during the normal business hours of 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Cradles to Crayons accepts clothing, shoes, toys, and books in addition to school supplies. In 2010 alone, it distributed more than 15,000 KidPacks, 10,000 backpacks, and 12,000 winter coats.
This summer’s school supply program is not complete until all backpacks are stuffed for distribution. Area residents are invited to help. The Philadelphia Zoo is the setting for a one-day event on Thursday, August 25 that prepares backpacks for distribution across 5 local counties. Learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities presented by Cradles to Crayons at 215.836.0958 or www.cradlestocrayons.org and by UWSEPA at 215.665.2617 or www.liveunitedsepa.org/volunteer.
All rights to this article are reserved by Gloria Blakely. Copyright 2011.