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. The second annual backpack charity event filled the hearts for all who participated in this U.S. Communities event and will bring smiles to the students who receive them. This year’s recipient, Fresno Unified School District, was overwhelmed and grateful for the gifts for their students.
Fresno 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. Nancy Horn, FUSD Project ACCESS/HHI Manager 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, attendees formed “assembly” lines to fill each backpack with everything from pencils and water bottles to pocket folders, rulers and calculators. As attendees filled 500 backpacks with school supplies, inspirational notes were written to each student to let them know they are receiving these backpacks because we care. Paul Rosencrans, was honored to accept these backpacks on behalf of Fresno Unified School District and rent 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.” says 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.