July 15, 2020

Contributions Needed for Annual Backpack/School Supplies Drive for Local Children

To the Editor:

For over a decade, Princeton’s Human Services Department has sponsored an annual drive to ensure that all children start school each year equipped with a backpack and essential school supplies. Last year, the drive helped 200 children from low-income Princeton families get ready for school. We expect that the need will be even greater this year, given the challenges faced by many families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Year after year, about 1 in 8 Princeton public school children qualify for free or reduced cost meals, an indication of the financial insecurity that some families experience in our town. In the past several months, due to COVID, many families have experienced a further drop in income, because they have lost a job or had a reduction in work hours. Economic uncertainty has increased in our community during the past several months, frequently among essential workers, with a discernable impact on their children. We know this because the Human Services Department, along with community partners, has been involved in providing relief to community members suddenly unable to pay rent or utilities, or facing other financial emergencies. We know this because local meal programs and the grass roots organizations that have recently sprung up are working hard and successfully to ensure that children and families in our community have adequate nutrition. 

We all look forward to the resumption of some modicum of normalcy under, we are sure, very different circumstances. Getting back to school for our children is an important milestone for that gradual and safe return. We hope that Princeton residents will step up to help with the drive, so that all of our children can feel excited about getting back to school in September

Here is what is needed: Cartoon backpacks, graphing calculators, composition books, erasers, scotch tape, notebooks, binders and lined binder paper, pencil cases, safety scissors, tissues, and, this year in particular, pocket hand sanitizers and child-size face masks. Perhaps your family can consider buying an extra backpack and supplies and donating to a child in need.   

Donations of backpacks and school supplies can be dropped off at the Human Services Office at One Monument Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, until August 7.  Deliveries for online orders will be accepted, as well (please don’t require a signature).  If you know of a Princeton child in need, we ask that you contact the Human Services Office at (609) 688-2055. 

Thank you for generosity!

Larry Spruill
Veronica Olivares
Ericka Deglau
Ross Wishnick, Chair

For Members of the Princeton Human Services Commission