PTSA’s annual back-to-school drive raises $2,000 for needed school supplies

Vashon PTSA’s annual back-to-school drive raised around $2,000 in a matter of days, enabling the group to purchase dozens of backpacks, calculators and other supplies for families who can’t afford the items, said Jackie Merrill, PTSA’s vice president.

The group is handing out supplies to families today at the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank. The funds, as well as several bins full of donated items, mean that several families once again will get many of their needs met, Merrill said.

The PTSA, under new leadership this year, had to scramble to get the annual event organized, Merrill said. As a result, it put out a plea for financial support with a deadline of just a couple of days — a goal it met when eight Islanders agreed to contribute $250 each to sponsor the drive.

“It’s just amazing that we were able to do it in just three days,” Merrill said.

The group also said its money went farther this year than in previous ones because two Vashon stores — Essentials 4 and Thriftway — agreed to purchase items at cost for the drive. In previous years, the PTSA purchased items from off-Island stores at a discount, but not at cost, she said.

PTSA purchased 70 backpacks from Essentials 4. “They’re quality; they’re JanSport,” said Merrill. The group also bought dozens of calculators from Thriftway.

Merrill said it made enormous sense to do the purchases locally rather than off-Island, even though the stores didn’t benefit directly from the purchases. The approach saved money and built stronger ties between the PTSA and on-Island merchants, she said.

“Why we never did this before is crazy,” Merrill said.

The PTSA will continue fundraising for back-to-school items through its website, As additional funds come in, they’ll be turned over to the principals at the three schools, who will use the money to buy items for other families who come forward with unmet needs, Merrill said. 

“The money’s earmarked. It can’t be used anywhere else,” she said.

Distribution of supplies, meanwhile, will take place at the food bank today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m., the regular food distribution hours at the food bank at Sunrise Ridge. 

“It’s open to any family who feels they need help, no questions asked,” Merrill said. 


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