Community comes together ahead of Backpack Drive

  • Staff from Valuing Our Children, D’Ambrosio Eye Care and the Salvation Army Athol Corps gather in the Athol Credit Union to donate and organize school supplies for the annual Back-to-School Backpack Drive. STAFF PHOTO/CARSON MCGRATH

Staff Writer
Published: 8/9/2018 10:39:39 PM

ATHOL — Staff from D’Ambrosio Eye Care carried boxes of school supplies, from pencils and notebooks to calculators, into the Athol Credit Union community center Thursday morning ahead of Valuing Our Children’s annual Back-to-School Backpack Drive.

Valuing Our Children, an organization established in 1993 by the North Quabbin Community Coalition, aims to help families by responding to the needs of area children. According to Shirley Mitchell, a family advocate at Valuing Our Children and facilitator of the drive, the organization has hosted the event for 17 years.

Jude Seppa of D’Ambrosio Eye Care said this is the fifth year the company has donated supplies for the drive.

“We want to give back to the communities we are in,” she said.

In preparation for the backpack drive, said Seppa, employees throughout the five offices broke up into eight teams. Each team was assigned specific school supplies to shop for. This year, Seppa said, she was on the teams shopping for binders and pens.

“We try to keep it focused so people aren’t buying random stuff that doesn’t fit into what the community’s needs are,” she said.

About four years ago Mitchell said Valuing Our Children partnered with the Athol Credit Union for the event and has used the community center — packed with pencil cases, folders and notebooks — each year since.

“They offered us this space, which was amazing and they purchase a lot of notebooks, binders and pocket folders,” said Mitchell.

The drive is a “total community event,” said Mitchell, and brings organizations like D’Ambrosio Eye Care and the Salvation Army Athol Corps together to help children in need.

Valuing our Children’s Backpack Drive is set for next Tuesday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Athol Credit Union. Children from the nine towns of the North Quabbin are able to receive a new backpack and various school supplies on a first-come, first-served basis. More than 500 backpacks were given away at last year’s drive, according to Valuing Our Children.

At the drive the Athol Credit Union plans to hand out snacks, Valuing Our Children will have books for kids and volunteers from the community will assist families picking out supplies.

For more information, call Valuing Our Children at 978-249-5070.

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