RISE seeks donors for back-to-school drive

A backpack full of new school supplies seems like a small thing, but to a child, it spells a fresh start for the new school year.

That’s why RISE has launched its annual RISE Has Your Backpack school supplies drive for donors to contribute school supplies. The deadline for donating supplies is Aug. 25.

RISE, a Hightstown-based nonprofit group, wants to fill 600 backpacks with pencils, erasers, pens, folders, markers, scissors, binders, highlighters, USB flash drives and headsets for students. Because of COVID-19 concerns, all supplies and backpacks must be new.

The back-to-school program will provide a backpack to any child who can show a report card from the East Windsor Regional, Cranbury, Millstone, Monroe or Roosevelt public school district.

Every backpack distributed through the RISE Has Your Backpack drive is filled with new school supplies so the children can look and feel ready for the new school year – whether they are sitting at a desk in a classroom or sitting at the kitchen table at home.

“Although we are uncertain what the next school year will bring, one thing is for sure: the schools will start, whether in a virtual classroom or a physical classroom, and students need to be ready on Day One,” said Leslie Koppel, RISE’s executive director.

Koppel said local families’ needs are greater than ever, especially since parents are more likely to homeschool their children. More families are also struggling financially this year than at any other time in RISE’s 53-year history, she said.

“Local support of these basic items is critical for the success of our students now more than ever. Also, receiving school supplies adds a layer of routine for children and relieves stress for parents,” Koppel said.

Some of the school supplies that had been supplied by the teachers in the classroom will now have to be supplied by families at home, she said. There are also new needs for storage drives and headsets for students who are relying more on computers and tablets.

Koppel said RISE would like to include masks, hand sanitizers and wipes in each backpack because of COVID-19.

The deadline for dropping off school supplies and backpacks is Aug. 25. A new feature this year is contact-less drop-off at the RISE Thrift Store at 114 Rogers Ave. in Hightstown.

The supplies and backpacks can be dropped off Monday through Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The backpacks will be distributed from RISE’s office at 116 N. Main St. in Hightstown. A contactless pickup of a backpack can be arranged by calling RISE at 609-443-4464.

For more information, visit RISE at www.njrise.org.