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Food banks fill backpacks for students in need

Mark Ince, executive director of Kingston’s ShareNet, knows how valuable a bag of new school supplies can be to a young student.

That’s why Ince and his team at the food bank are working to ensure the children using their services start the school year with the right tools for learning.

“You can just see, the kids are really excited,” Ince said. “It’s very plain from watching them in the line, and watching their faces. Many of the kids, it’s not what they’re used to. They’re not used to getting new things.”

ShareNet and Poulsbo’s North Kitsap Fishline food bank are holding donation drives to collect school supplies for local children in need. Families can sign up to receive the supplies at Fishline through Friday and at ShareNet through Aug. 23. Fishline will hand out supplies between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aug. 26-28. ShareNet will distribute its supplies between 10 a.m. and noon Aug. 30.

Donations can be made at both food banks, or at Columbia Bank in Kingston and Poulsbo’s Edward Jones offices. Each location accepts donations in the form of money or actual supplies.

“The money is best, so we can put it where we need it,” said Karen Timken, executive director of Fishline.

Timken said donations at Fishline are down this year compared to years past, but the food bank is planning to serve more children than it did last year. In addition to the 370 kids who have already signed up to receive supplies, Fishline is giving 200 backpacks to the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe.

The food bank’s partnership with Edward Jones helps alleviate some of that pressure.

“We get more than we would have had otherwise,” Timken said.

Columbia Bank’s work with ShareNet is essential for the school supply drive, Ince said.

“We have a little bit of money in our budget for (the school supplies), but it’s never enough,” Ince said.

The bank sells popcorn at Kingston’s Concerts on the Cove throughout the summer, and the money raised there has already bought several school supply packs. Shannon Harry, who is leading the donation efforts at Columbia Bank, said monetary donations have been enough to cover the supplies she has purchased so far. But with about 100 kids signed up to receive supplies, and more expected, ShareNet will probably have to dip into its reserves to outfit every child.

“We were pretty surprised at the amount that we already had signed up,” Harry said.

The school supply donations are limited to families who are considered low income. Fishline requires recipients to be registered at the food bank.

“We’re not going to drag them through the paper mill, but they’re going to sign a legal statement saying they’re within an income category,” Timken said.

Timken said families often pay more than $50 per child for new school supplies. The food bank programs wipe out that cost, allowing families to focus on other essential purchases.

“You can see at 50 bucks a pop, for someone who’s low income, that’s a lot of money,” Timken said.

The supplies also assist kids in less tangible ways.

“It helps kids to feel good too,” Timken said. “It’s hard to be the only one in class who has an old, used backpack that’s raggy.”

Donate or sign up to receive:

ShareNet is located at 26061 United Road NE, Kingston

Food bank hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday

For more info, call (360) 297-2266 or visit www.sharenetfoodbank.org.

Fishline is located at 18916 Third Ave. NE, Poulsbo

Food bank hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday

For more info, call (360) 779-5190 or visit www.nkfishline.org.

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