For more than 80 students in Hillsborough, the generosity of strangers has not only supplied their families with food during a particularly difficult time, but it has also helped them get to the starting line of a new school year with some of the essentials.
From early July until mid-September, the Hillsborough Township Community Assistance Network (CAN) has been working to collect a wide range of school supplies for students of all grade levels for its annual Back to School Supply Drive.
For Cathy Faerber, the assistant director of social services, the annual drive that’s become a long-standing effort by the township has turned into a galvanizing effort for many facets of the Hillsborough community.
“The Community Assistance Network is supposed solely by donations by the local community, including local places of worship, scouting and sporting groups, different school groups, businesses and individuals,” she said. “Hillsborough is home to a very giving community.”
This year, there are 70 families enrolled with CAN, with nearly half needed assistance with food and toiletries each week. Of those families, Faerber said, 31 have children. In total, CAN serves 83 local youths ranging from preschool to college.
“This really gives the kids a head start for school so they have everything they need to study properly,” Faerber said.
This year, CAN was calling for donations of new and gently used backpacks, pens, pencils, mechanical pencils, highlighters, markers, colored pencils, erasers, White Out, tape, glue sticks, folders, pencil cases, scissors, binders, dividers, loose and book style graph paper, sketching pencils and markers, sketch books and daily planners.
Of particular need this year were backpacks, which Faerber said is generally a hot ticket request every time CAN runs a school supply drive.
“With the help of the local donors here in town, we were able to provide backpacks to each child that requested one, along with all of the necessary supplies,” Faerber said.
Through CAN has already distributing backpacks stuffed with school supplies since August, Faerber said the organization will continue doling out the donations until they run out.
“We still have stuff coming in from people who purchased supplies and may have leftovers, they’ll sometimes bring that in to provide to our families that need it,” Faerber said. “We will put this out to distribute out to the clients that ask for it. For instance, if a family moves into town in October, we could still have some school supplies for them if needed.”
School supplies, non-perishable food and other items can be dropped off at Social Services Department, located in the Hillsborough Township Municipal Building anytime between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
For more information on how to contribute or volunteer, call 908-369-3880