High school students across Rhode Island are organizing a drive collecting school supplies for young children in need this fall. All collections from this drive will benefit Children’s Friend, a charity focused on assisting challenged children and families of Rhode Island.
The 20 students involved with the drive will all set up collection sites at their schools for classmates and teachers to drop off donations. Approximately 15 schools ranging across Rhode Island will be participating in the drive.
“I’m very excited,” says Casey Traverse of East Providence, one of the students organizing the drive. “It took a long time to get the drive started but once we made sure that everything was set to go, we knew we could make it happen. I think it’ll be fun more than anything, seeing it all come together and seeing everyone buying school supplies.”
It all started when a group of ambitious high school sophomores met at a leadership conference in early June. Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) seminars encourage community leadership focused on serving others, so a group of driven young adults who attended the Rhode Island seminar this year decided to use this training to start a project that would help other Rhode Islanders in need.
“We were inspired by the HOBY seminar to do 100 hours of volunteer work. We broke into two groups, students from northern RI and southern Rhode Island, to organize local community service projects. There was lots of arguing in the northern group. We decided not to get together for one event but to do something throughout the summer because that would be more practical for everyone.”
A drive of some sort seemed ideal, as each student participating represented a different school, and therefore donations would be collected from all over the state. The group organizing the drive felt that a school supplies drive would receive many contributions, as people will be shopping for these items in early September, when they plan to start the drive.
“I think the drive will achieve a good outcome because it doesn’t take a ton of people to make a drive a success. We have a lot of kids in HOBY already, so as long as everyone makes a small contribution we’ll have a healthy amount of supplies. Once the school year starts and we start advertising then I think we could very easily meet our goal, if not go far beyond it.” Adds Traverse, “We’ve been separated for a while, so it might be hard to get everyone back together and motivated when school begins, but I think once we get it started it will work out really well.”
Children’s Friend is a Providence-based non-profit that strives to provide free childcare for families with children too young to attend school, and with no where else to go while their parents work. This vital program, along with countless other family services they offer, can only operate with the necessary materials. This charity is always in need of baby items such as diapers and paper towels, and is also constantly looking for school supplies for the older kids going into kindergarten soon.
Items needed include notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, pencil cases, learning toys, and new and gently used children’s books and backpacks. Any donations of these items would be appreciated by the organization and monetary donations can be made directly to Children’s Friend via their website.
Donations will be accepted in participating schools until late September and all collections will be delivered to Children’s Friend following the conclusion of the drive.
Traverse sums it up best: “We all agreed that it was a great opportunity for us to help, because every child deserves the necessary materials to succeed in school. All we wanted to do was make an impact.”
For more information, please contact Elizabeth Griffin at (401) 644-8873, or visit www.cfsri.org  for additional ways to help.