With fall quickly approaching, Children’s Home & Aid needed to get creative to ensure kids and families in our programs were ready to return to virtual or in person learning settings. With the support of our volunteers, donors, staff and partners across the state, nearly 1,000 youth were supported by our Returning to Learning efforts, ensuring kids were more prepared for school and parents had one less thing to worry about.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from A Better Chicago and support from many other generous donors we were able to host our Returning to Learning Drive Thru event in Chicago’s Englewood community. To ensure kids and families got the supplies they needed to return to school while staying safe, we transitioned our annual Back to School Community Event to a drive thru and walk up event for kids in our programs and the surrounding Englewood community. Kids and families were able to stay socially distant while picking up nearly 400 bookbags stuffed with school supplies, as well as PPE, activity kits, pre-packaged lunches, and more. The event was a rousing success, with supplies running out in just under an hour.

Michel Quezada, Youth Services Supervisor, commented “Youth are missing their friends. Remote learning is a tough adjustment for learners who may need additional guidance, and it’s equally tough for parents who aren’t able to work from home. Our ability to put this event together as an organization, with the support of our donors and community partners, speaks to our dedication to providing families the support they need – to take some of the weight off their shoulders during these unprecedented times.”

We’re grateful for the support of our partners, including A Better Chicago, CTS Impact, Enchanted Backpack, Carol Bernick, Pep Rally Takeover, Not Before My Parents, and LaTanya and the Youth of Englewood.

In our other regions, our Southern Region Advisory Board came together with staff and volunteers to put together our Southern Region Teen School Supply Porch Drive to much success. Board members, staff, and agency volunteers all worked together to promote this cause and provide support through donating, transporting donations, or using their homes as ‘drop sites’.

Regional Volunteer Coordinator Beth Hunter remarked, “It was like magic the way donations kept appearing on my front porch! Just 2 days after launching our Southern Region Teen School Supply Porch Drive, I opened my door to find a stack of boxes over my head. The beauty of this is that my home was just 1 of 10 area porch drop sites and this magic just kept happening!”

Within the first 24 hours, two donors met the Board’s original goal of providing 75 backpacks to area teens. Ultimately, more than 100 donors, including Essendant Charitable Foundation and the Angel Eye Foundation, came together to provide bags of supplies for 400 teens this year.

Our work isn’t finished. With kids returning to school, our support is needed now more than ever. Children’s Home & Aid goes where the need is greatest – and we’ll be there now, virtually or in person, to ensure families get the support they need to maintain access to critical emotional, social and educational tools and resources.

For more information on how you can help kids and families in our communities all year round, contact Liz Startz at estartz@childrenshomeandaid.org.

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