Back-to-School Drive donations still needed

Every year around this time, I get that feeling of the back-to-school excitement I felt as a kid. September has become an annual checkpoint for me, almost more relevant than New Year’s. It’s the bittersweet feeling of letting go of the last few days of summer fun to get ready to dive headfirst back into the classroom schedule.

I remember as a child the excitement I got just from picking out that one new special outfit, a new pair of shoes and a winter jacket. I recall the anticipation of a new teacher, new friends, ballet class, tennis team and, at times, a new school.

Going back to school literally was my time for “new resolutions.” Even now as a parent, I find myself high-fiving my friends because our children got the same teacher this year. I realize that this kid still remains a part of me somewhere, and I am glad that I get to go back to school.

I have experienced first-hand, not only as a parent but as a classroom volunteer, that going back to school these days also means a lot more than a new outfit, pencils and glue sticks. Just the bare essentials can cost more than $100 per child.

In addition to the school supply list, classrooms can have their own specific supply needs as well. There are art fees, comfort kits, sports and other extracurricular fees, equipment and uniforms, hot lunches, school pictures, field trips, immunizations and annual physicals, new clothes, shoes and a winter jacket. These costs only become greater as the child ages, and I can only imagine what it is like for a family with multiple children.

Today, with more Island families having to rely on the food bank, the added expenses of even the most basic school supplies or a new backpack can be daunting. Parents may feel overwhelmed by the financial strain a new school year brings, and this burden sometimes cycles down to our beloved teachers, who may have to compensate out of their own pockets.

The PTSA Back-to-School Drive will help families by distributing school supplies at the food bank this week. But as of recently the drive had only met one-tenth of what it needed to be successful this year. I have seen our community in action and know what we are able to accomplish together, so I have faith that we can still find a way to make this year’s back-to-school drive as successful as in the past.

This is the season to find the kid who is somewhere still inside of us.

Do you remember wanting to be a superhero when you grew up? Well, that moment has arrived — we need to come together as a community and save the day for Island families experiencing financial hardships. We can give monetary contributions or purchase items on the list at Thriftway.

Let’s help all Island kids to experience that feeling of excitement and anticipation for their new school year.

— Coriel Reilly-Silkett grew up on Vashon. The stepmom of a third-grader, she is also a Chautauqua volunteer, PTSA member and local actress.

Help out

Though the official deadline for the back-to-school drive has expired, the needs of the Vashon community haven’t nearly been met. Donations are down by 90 percent, and efforts to ensure that all Vashon children are properly outfitted for the school year are ongoing — new expenses continue to arise year-round.

For more information on ways to help, call Heather Flanery at 463-1529.

Tax-deductible donations may be sent to: Vashon PTSA, P.O. Box 2364, Vashon, WA 98070. Checks should be made out to Vashon PTSA.

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