Drive for School Sup­plies kicks off at Lutes

Yuma Sun - - NEWS - BY AMY CRAW­FORD SUN STAFF WRITER

In 1999, sev­eral Yuma Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter em­ploy­ees de­cided to do an in-house drive for school sup­plies. That fall, work­ers do­nated 200 back­packs to lo­cal schools.

Jump ahead 17 years, and the now-com­mu­nity wide drive has supplied al­most 48,000 back­packs to lo­cal schools, with 6,108 be­ing do­nated last year.

At an aver­age of $13 per back­pack filled with basic school sup­plies, the pro­gram has served thou­sands of chil­dren all over Yuma County and at San Pasqual Val­ley Uni­fied School Dis­trict in Win­ter­haven.

Last year’s back­packs rep­re­sented $79,404 in do­na­tions, not in­clud­ing time and sup­plies, the Foun­da­tion of YRMC said in its mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als, ben­e­fit­ing 61 schools and 16 or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“You can’t do that any­more,” said Ser­ena Holthaus, fund de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist for the Foun­da­tion of YRMC, of the high cost of sup­ply­ing a child for school. “But be­cause of our com­mu­nity part­ners, we’re able to do that. We’ve been extremely for­tu­nate to be able to sup­port ev­ery sin­gle back­pack that comes through the foun­da­tion.”

Now in its 18th year, the Foun­da­tion of YRMC and its lo­cal part­ners are seek­ing to sur­pass 2016’s to­tal, and seek­ing vol­un­teers for its “Stuff the Bus” event July 14 and to help as­sem­ble back­packs.

“Vol­un­teerism is extremely im­por­tant in what we do, and we could not sup­port the Drive for School Sup­plies with­out the many vol­un­teers that par­tic­i­pate in all as­pects,” Holthaus said.

The com­mu­nity has re­ally ral­lied around the event through the years, Holthaus said, and given Yuma County’s high child­poverty (28.9 per­cent) num­bers, is much-needed.

“This is a strong com­mu­nity cam­paign. This com­mu­nity is fan­tas­tic when it comes to the needs of chil­dren,” Holthaus said. “We feel very hon­ored that the com­mu­nity is be­hind the Drive for School Sup­plies.”

Com­mu­nity mem­bers who wish to help fund the cam­paign can en­joy food at Lutes Casino Thurs­day night from 4 to 8 p.m., said Michael Frisella, a board mem­ber of NexGen, an or­ga­ni­za­tion for young pro­fes­sion­als that sup­ports the an­nual drive.

Have plans that night? Frisella said there will be a sec­ond takeover at Lutes the fol­low­ing week dur­ing the same hours, on June 29, for those who miss the first event.

Lutes at­ten­dees will also get a “golden” ticket to an­other fundrais­ing event sched­uled for July 14 at the Littlewood Fine Art and Com­mu­nity Co-Op, a con­cert fea­tur­ing Venkman’s Ghost, Dune Sea Crew, and the KrookTone Clas­sics. Tick­ets will be $10 at the door for those who did not get a ticket at Lutes.

For those un­able to at­tend the events, do­nated sup­plies can be dropped off at the YRMC Cor­po­rate Cen­ter, 399 W. 32nd St. Needed items in­clude: three-ring binders, pens, pen­cils, notebook paper, notepads, cal­cu­la­tors, rulers and other school re­lated items.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to make a dona­tion, call the Foun­da­tion of Yuma Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter at 928-336-7045.

To sign up to vol­un­teer to “Stuff the Bus,” con­tact Holthaus di­rectly at 3362445 or [email protected]­mare­gional.org.

“The Drive for School Sup­plies not only aids our chil­dren, but our teach­ers,” Frisella said. “It is im­por­tant that they know they are sup­ported, too.”

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