United Way Preparing Students for Success on First Day of School

the organization collected 6,000 backpacks and are still giving them away

FARGO, N.D. — As an educator for more than 40 years, Greg Vandal says there was one thing that never went unnoticed.

“There was always a differential between families. Some have resources, some are struggling. Schools are responsible to serve everyone,” Vandal said.

United Way of Cass–Clay is now helping out some of those families who could use a helping hand by giving out about 4,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.

“We know that many students who don’t have the tools that they need, they may not be participating,” said Kristi Huber, president of United Way of Cass-Clay.

Which is why some backpacks, glue sticks and pencils are doing a lot more than giving these students a few materials.

“Rather than worrying as they head into a new school year, they’re able to come in with a comfort level that matches others. This gives them the opportunity for a fresh and a great start to the beginning of the school year. Certainly that translates into success or at least the potential for success over the course of the year,” Vandal said.

United Way received more than 6,000 backpack donations this year and gave away a few on Saturday.

About 48 percent of students who utilize the school supply drive are in middle and high school according to the organization.  Dilworth–Glyndon–Felton superintendent Bryan Thygeson says about one in seven kids in his district, especially elementary and middle school students, who wouldn’t have the resources for the first day without this drive.

“It’s an equalizer for those families and for those students. This is all about equal access for kids and students shouldn’t have to worry about the year and not starting out with these supplies,” Thygeson said.

When kids spend so much of their day at school, it’s about making them feel like they can achieve an education just like anyone else.

“The kids feel like they’re part of a family. We want them to feel like this is an extension of their home,” Thygeson said.

For the first time ever, additional backpacks will be available at rural districts in Cass and Clay Counties.

Families should contact their schools for pick–up information.

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