HomeFront to support students in Mercer County with school supplies

HomeFront is collecting school supplies for children going back to school, either in person or virtually.PHOTO COURTESY OF HOMEFRONT
HomeFront is collecting school supplies for children going back to school, either in person or virtually.PHOTO COURTESY OF HOMEFRONT

Happiness is a backpack full of school supplies, a new outfit and new sneakers for the first day of school – especially for children who are living in shelters or whose parents struggle to make ends meet.

That’s why HomeFront hopes to distribute about 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies and new outfits. The nonprofit group, which is based in Lawrence Township, helps the homeless and the working poor in Mercer County.

Every child wants to start the school year with the same fresh, new things that other children have, so what better way to start the new school year than with new clothing and a stuffed backpack, HomeFront officials said.

But this year, it is more critical than ever that HomeFront is able to distribute backpacks full of school supplies to the children who need them, the officials said. Its back-to-school drive, which seeks donors, ends Aug. 15.

HomeFront’s goal is to sponsor at least 1,500 children – an increase over the 1,350 children who were sponsored last year. The need in the community has increased with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Connie Mercer, the executive director and founder of HomeFront.

“We have been distributing triple the amount of food and essentials than we usually do, because of the increase in unemployment tied to COVID-19,” Mercer said.

“We know our back-to-school drive faces new challenges this year because the congregations, corporations and organizations who usually get involved this year are now all operating remotely,” she said.

That’s why HomeFront is seeking potential donors to fill those backpacks with school supplies, along with new clothing for the children. Individuals, businesses and corporations are invited to become donors.

Donors may fill backpacks with school supplies or “adopt” one or more children and provide them with new clothing. It is easy to sponsor a child by calling HomeFront at 609-915-1035, or by email to homefront@homefrontnj.org.

Donors who choose to support a child with new clothing will be provided with the age, gender, clothing and shoe size of the child, plus the school supplies needed. The shopping list includes a new shirt and pants, new underwear, socks and shoes or sneakers.

A donor may choose to fill a backpack with school supplies – from the backpack itself to notebooks, a three-ring binder with paper, folders, pens, colored pencils, erasers, rulers, glue sticks, tape, crayons and safety scissors.

A financial contribution to HomeFront’s back-to-school drive is another way to make school a positive experience for a child, Mercer said. There is a special fund that allows children to participate more fully in the school experience.

The fund will cover the many small expenses that occur throughout the school year and that are out of reach for many HomeFront parents – the costs for school trips, class pictures, special needs tutors, SAT fees and manuals, and clothing for hard-to-fit children.

For more information about the back-to-school drive and how to drop off donations, call HomeFront at 609-915-1035 or by email at homefront@homefrontnj.org.