This summer, School District 65 partnered with Caring Outreach by Parents in Evanston (COPE) and the District 65 PTA Council in an effort to purchase school supplies for students in need. Thanks to the generosity of community partners, local businesses, and residents of Evanston and Skokie, nearly 950 District 65 students were able to start school feeling prepared and ready to learn.
“This year’s school supply drive and fundraising initiative was truly a community effort. We were able to harness the power of volunteers and the incredible support of our partners to really make a difference,” said Dr. Maria Allison, District 65 Chief Strategy Officer. “Knowing that many of our students were able to come to school on day one with bags full of supplies makes the effort worthwhile. However, with nearly 2,600 students qualifying for free and reduced price meals, we still have a long way to go.”
During the week of August 9, volunteers from COPE, school PTAs, Starbucks, and students from Evanston Township High School gathered at St. Mark’s Church in Evanston to sort school supplies and build kits for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. With the local non-profit, Kids And School Supplies (KASS), no longer in operation, the community rallied to meet this urgent need raising nearly $15,000 and meeting this year’s fundraising goal.
The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) and Foundation 65 launched the effort with each organization donating $2,500 towards the purchase of much needed supplies for students. ECF also helped lead the collection effort by accepting donations through their website. District 65 was able to use these funds to purchase supplies in bulk saving on retail prices. In addition, local businesses including various Starbucks stores, Curt’s Café, Little Beans Café, and Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony hosted supply drives to collect donations across the community.
Volunteers were able to pack 700 supply kits using reusable bags donated by the Midwest Young Artists organization located in Highwood along with cinch sacks donated by Office Depot. An additional 250 kits were assembled and brought back to the District so that school principals and social workers would have extra supplies on hand for distribution within the first several weeks of school.
On August 14 and August 15, COPE and the PTA Council hosted two events at St. Mark’s to distribute school supplies to students and families who had formed a line around the block. Nearly 400 students were served within the first hour and a half.
“The response of our partners and community members was spectacular. It is remarkable the way that people throughout Evanston and Skokie come together in support of one another. Whether it was making a donation, volunteering to sort or distribute supplies, or to help raise awareness around this important cause – everyone played an important role,” said Superintendent Paul Goren. “I am truly proud to serve as Superintendent of District 65 and to represent a community that cares so deeply about the education of all children.”
This year’s initiative raised an additional $5,000 over last year’s effort and served almost 350 additional children. District 65 thanks St. Mark’s Church of Evanston for donating the use of their facility and to the Evanston Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Evanston, Evanston Lighthouse Rotary, Foundation 65, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mather, Midwest Young Artists, Office Depot, and the individual donors across Evanston and Skokie for their generous contributions. “This would not have been possible without COPE and the PTA Council. I am truly grateful for their partnership,” said Superintendent Goren. The District would also like to thank local businesses for supporting this effort including Starbucks, Curt’s Café, Little Beans Café, and Maya Papaya & Tony Macarony.