When Laura Moore, director of alumni relations and special events at Owens Community College, noticed that several backpacks in great shape around her house were going unused, the idea for Backpack to the Future became clear.
This year, Owens' Alumni Association partnered with Books-A-Million Inc., Directions Credit Union, Great Lakes Credit Union, and Genoa Bank to carry on the work of Backpack to the Future, a program of distributing both backpacks and school supplies to kindergartners that began in 2004.
As a result, 525 backpacks and 11,582 school-supply items were collected this summer by the partners, and the items will be delivered to 15 area schools, including some in the Toledo Public district, this month.
"We looked at what other drives and initiatives were taking place in the community," she said, citing other collections that supplied students in first grade and above.
"It looked as if nobody was focusing on kindergartners, so we really felt like that was a niche that we wanted to focus on. It's the first official entry into school and we wanted it to be a positive one," she said.
Ms. Moore said school principals reported that students who didn't have the necessary supplies were borrowing from other students. Representatives from Owens deliver and present the supplies to the kindergarten classrooms.
Ms. Moore said businesses near Owens also contribute to the program.
Officials of one, Plygem Windows, called her earlier in the year and offered to collect supplies for the program.
Matt Kagy, Plygem human resources manager, said, "I know we filled an entire truck. They brought a van with all the seats out and we filled it. We had backpacks, pencils, markers, crayons …
"There were clearly somewhere close to maybe 50 backpacks and in terms of school supplies, you could probably say thousands of dollars worth."
Mr. Kagy said it was a "real nice collaborative effort," and the company was highly involved. "Almost every single person contributed. It was really neat," he said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at email@example.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.