Drive for School Supplies kicks off at Lutes
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.”