We Helped U.S. Communities Give 500 Backpacks to These Students in Need

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The National League of Cities was represented at the recent U.S. Communities annual meeting and charity event by David Maloney, Program Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Emma Lieberth, Program Manager, Strategic Partnerships. U.S. Communities is the only national purchasing cooperative sponsored by NLC, the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and more than 70 state level organizations, including 29 state municipal leagues. For more information, visit uscommunities.org.

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Communities website and was republished with permission.

Fresno Unified School District photo

NLC helped U.S. Communities stuff 500 backpacks for students in need(top) Students from the Fresno Unified School District. (photo courtesy of the Fresno Unified School District)
(bottom) Paul Rosencrans of the Fresno Unified School District stands among the 500 backpacks NLC staff helped fill for students in need. (photo courtesy of U.S. Communities)

U.S. Communities, the leading national government and education purchasing cooperative, encouraged philanthropy by raising awareness for underprivileged students during its 2015 Annual Planning Meeting with staff, national sponsors, suppliers and Advisory Board members. Our second annual backpack charity event filled the hearts of all who participated and brought smiles to the students who received the donations. This year’s recipient was the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD).

Fresno, Calif., has the highest rate of unsheltered homelessness in the country, according to 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report by the The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Fresno Unified School District is the 4th largest school district in California, serving more than 73,000 students. Fresno Unified is committed to providing students with the greatest number of opportunities to boost student achievement. U.S. Communities recognized an opportunity to make a difference in this community and asked Paul Rosencrans, U.S. Communities Advisory Board member and Executive Director of Purchasing for Fresno Unified School District, to identify schools with the highest-need students.

Fresno Unified has a program called Project ACCESS (Achievement in Core Curriculum for Equity and Student Success) which oversees the enrollment of all homeless families into the school district. FUSD Project ACCESS/HHI Manager Nancy Horn explains, “This year, in the first semester alone, we enrolled 465 new homeless students in grades K through 12. It is such a joy to present a child with a backpack filled with school supplies. Students immediately put them on, and a smile creeps across their face. Many times, they don’t have anything that is their own because of being locked out due to eviction or being kicked out of a home they were sharing, so this gift can mean so much.” Throughout the year, Fresno Unified works to help needy students with what they need to be successful in school and at their “home for homework.“ At this point, we are out of backpacks – so your donation is coming at a perfect time,” says Nancy.

Following dinner on the first day of the meeting, volunteers formed assembly lines to fill each backpack with everything from pencils and water bottles to pocket folders, rulers and calculators. As the volunteers filled 500 backpacks with school supplies, inspirational notes were written to each student to let them know they were receiving these backpacks because we care. Paul Rosencrans was honored to accept these backpacks on behalf of Fresno Unified School District, and rented a truck to drive the large donation back to Fresno. “As I drive this rental truck filled with backpacks and supplies from San Diego to Fresno, I plan to take some time of reflection to be grateful for all the opportunities I have been given and what this means for each student that will receive their own backpack,” Paul said, as he also encouraged the audience to take some time to reflect on their own lives.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to give back this year with the help of our supplier partners and attendees who helped stuff each backpack. Their generosity showed a lot of heart, and we are proud to count them as part of the U.S. Communities family.” said Kevin Juhring, General Manager of U.S. Communities.

The 500 backpack donations were made possible by the generous donations from our supplier partners: Acro Service Corporation, Applied Industrial Technologies, BI, Inc., CARQUEST/Advance Professional, Cintas, Fisher Science Education, Gametime, Garland/DBS, Inc., Graybar, Haworth, HD Supply Facilities Maintenance, Herman Miller, Hertz Equipment Rental, The Home Depot, Independent Stationers, Insight Public Sector, KOMPAN, KONE, Kronos, Ricoh, ServiceWear Apparel and TAPCO.