July 09, 2019

A Backpacks Impact: The United Way School Supply Drive

At the 2019 United Way School Supply Drive Kick Off Event, we had the honor of hearing Chris Christel's story of how the School Supply Drive made an impact in his life. 

"The year before starting my second year of high school, my dad woke me up at 5:30 in the morning saying we got to go to the Fargo Dome. I was confused for a second because it was very unusual for my dad to wake me up that early, so I went back to sleep because it was summer and I probably slept 2 hours before that.

5 minutes later I heard him knock again for the second time saying we got to go grab some school supplies; again, I was very confused because It was too early to go shopping. So, I asked him why we were about to go buy school supplies so early in the morning and why he couldn't wait until later in the day. He told me to just hurry up and get ready, so I grabbed my wallet and jacket because I always saved up a little money right before school started to buy some clothes and school supplies. We started heading towards NDSU, during the drive my little brother and I kept looking at each other because we had no clue what was going on.

Then we started seeing a lot of people outside in a line; mostly parents. We parked, got out the car and headed to the line as we waited; my dad started explaining that he had heard about a program from our school that United Way has a program every year before school started to help families that are in need of school supplies for their children.

As I stood in the line, I was super happy because I didn't have to use the money that I saved to get a new backpack or school supplies anymore and I could use it to put it towards a budget for a new pair of shoes that I had been saving for. When we got inside it was simple, the parent usually showed how many students they have in the house and someone went inside and got the backpacks and we left. On the way back I kept thinking to myself, like how do they even get all those backpacks, how do they even organize such a big program like that, and where do all those supplies come from. But one thing that always stuck with me, was just how generous United Way is helping those in need; especially immigrant famillies like mine.

This program allowed my family of nine to spend the money that we would have spent on school supplies to buy food, help pay rent, and even get some extra clothes when we went shopping for the new school year. Back to school was 10x better every year after that because I had some extra money to spend on other things that are essential in a high schooler's life like new clothes and shoes.

Every year after that I would go with my siblings and it basically became part of our going back to school tradition. We would get up early and go grab our school supplies. One day, I was at Fargo Welcome Party and Kirsti Huber was talking about the program, I had to thank her because It helped so many families including mine get through school easier because they could save a little money.

She was so nice and when I she told me that there is an opportunity to volunteer this year; I couldn’t pass on it because this program became part of my high school journey and it is an opportunity for me to give back. This program helped my family save a lot of money and now it is giving me an opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering. Soo many Thanks to the United Way team, they rock."

Chris and Chris's friend volunteering at the 2018 United Way School Supply Drive


The story Chris shared would sound familiar to over 6,000 students in our local commuinty. Becuase of the generosity and passion local community members have for making a difference, we were able to equip over 6,000 local students last year with the school supplies they needed to succeed! When you give to the United Way School Supply Drive, you are helping local students walk into their first day of school feeling confident and ready to learn! 

Chris presenting a backpack to a local student at the 2018 United Way School Supply Drive


How you can get involved with the United Way School Supply Drive

Fill out a Power of Community Card

Help encourage kids to succeed on their first day of school by filling out a note of encouragment that will be placed in the School Supply Drive Backpacks. Learn more here.

Run a Company Drive

You can collect School Supplies at your workplace to contribute to the School Supply Drive! Have a little friendly office competition and get your co-workers involved in helping local students succeed! Find a list of the most needed school supplies and tips on how to run your own drive here.

Give Online

Give financially to make the most impact. A gift of $20 will equip 1 student with the supplies they need.

 

Learn more about the School Supply Drive here

 

 

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