By Cameron Rasmusson
Every year, thousands of parents around the country struggle with the cost of sending their kids back to school. And every year, the Angels Over Sandpoint and Community Action Partnership are on hand to ease that burden.
For 14 years, Angels Over Sandpoint has raised funds to make sure kids in low-income households aren’t crippled from the start by a lack of required school supplies. Working from the supply lists prepared by teachers, members make sure program participants have the tools they need for each class.
“The goal is to level the school playing field so everyone gets what they need to succeed,” said Angels Over Sandpoint president Amy Flint.
Due to the odd timing of the school year versus most grant cycles, the fundraising for each Back To School program takes place the year prior, Flint said. With the end of the year in sight, she is making preparations to secure funds for the 2017 cycle.
“[The type of supplies we order] varies widely because we cover everything from preschool Head Start kids to high school seniors,” Flint said.
The distribution days for Back To School programs are a spectacle, with rows upon rows of backpacks and associated supplies laid out on tables. Parents often turn out early, worrying that they might lose out on the opportunity. However, Flint says that everyone who registers for the program has nothing to worry about.
While the Angels try to order excess supplies to account for families that show up without registering, they encourage everyone to sign up before the deadline of Aug. 18. This ensures that the Angels have the best possible expectation of turnout and the supplies needed to meet demand. To register, call CAP at 255-2910.
“It doesn’t matter whether they participated last year or not,” Flint said. “We still need accurate information and numbers.”
Distribution occurs at Farmin Stidwell Elementary over two days at different times, ensuring every family has a convenient time to visit. The evening session takes place 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, while the morning session occurs Wednesday, Aug. 31, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
“We’re also pretty flexible about letting people pick up supplies for each other,” Flint said. “Sometimes there’s issues that just prevent people from coming in.”
Those who wish to support the Backpack Program can mail donations to Angels Over Sandpoint at PO Box 2369, specifying that the money is for the program. You can also donate online at angelsoversandpoint.org. Rest assured you’re leaving some happy families in the wake of your generosity.
“It’s clear to us how much the program is appreciated by both the parents and the kids,” Flint said. “We often have parents tell us how [if it weren’t for the program], it was either a new pair of shoes or supplies.”