Back to School Buddies

School Supplies

By: Courtney Edge Mattos

They are at summer jobs, summer school, summer camp.  They are playing outside, riding bikes, splashing in sprinklers and pools, awaiting the chimes of the ice cream truck.  Every sign points to summer.  But the sun is setting slightly earlier every day, aisles of the grocery store are filled with school lunch snacks, and clothing stores have fall attire on display.  The school year, my dears, is coming.

There is a mixture of heel dragging and butterfly excitement from all kids.  Back to school shopping can be fun.  Seeing friends who scatter over the summer is exciting.  New teachers, new lessons, new extra curricular opportunities are all full of promise.  For kids in care, however, new school year often means a new school full of new hallways to memorize, new lockers to learn combinations, new teachers, new guidance counselors, new school nurses, new coaches, new classmates.  Often, they have just arrived in their new foster home, so there may have been little time to prepare them for the school year.  Foster parents scramble to assemble the ever-growing list of supplies on each child’s list.  They may have just said goodbye to a child they outfitted for the year, only to get a new child who has a different set of supplies and they have to start the process all over again.

We sat in staff meeting, going over concerns, and school supplies made the list.  Are there resources to help with this?  It feels terrible for a child to arrive to school unprepared, without the proper tools of their academic trade, but the costs add up quickly.  How can we help?

Behold, Back To School Buddies!  Coupled with the magic of the Amazon Wishlist and social media, we compiled a list.  We counted the kids we have, the kids who we anticipate moving in, and the percentages we see for each age group and figured out what it would take to fill a backpack for each child with their required supplies, along with a few extras. 

The list is up.  For two days, it has been floating in cyber space.  Through the power of social media and our amazing network of friends, items are being ticked off.    Back To School Buddies are adding things, an item at a time, to prepare our children and youth for the academic year. 

Our fingers are crossed.  We are hopeful that by August 20, we will have enough items to fill seventy backpacks and distribute them on August 22nd, at our end of summer party.  We hope to provide as many of the required supplies as possible, so that children feel excited, loved, and prepared.  To the Back To School Buddies who are reaching out, know that you are passing on more than a pack of pens.  You are passing along your belief in each child’s ability to do well, to succeed.  You are giving them dignity and grace.  To our foster parents, you are giving them financial relief, as well as a reminder that they aren’t in this alone.  Back To School Buddies, thank you for being our gift.

If you would like to be a Back To School Buddy, please click here to fill a backpack today!

#FosterHopeFosterCare #OpenHeartsOpenHomes #BackToSchoolBuddies


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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.