Tools for school

by Town Reminder

OperationBackpack A

Operation Backpack solicits supplies for needy families

By Kristin Will

SOUTH HADLEY – If the end of summer doesn’t trigger back-to-school vibes, shopping for supplies certainly does.
Nothing says school is starting quite like fresh reams of paper, crisp notebooks, a plethora of pens and packs of pencils.
Unless of course, one is not fortunate enough to participate in such a ritual.
But for those in need, there’s Margie Bacon and her Operation Backpack team.
As is the case for many younger clients at the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry and those in need, dozens of items detailed on school supply lists go un-purchased due to lack of funds.
There is no thrill of shopping for new outfits to wear in school photos and well-worn backpacks consistently graduate with their wearers to the next grade.
But with the help of Operation Backpack, less fortunate students in South Hadley have been – and will continue to be – supported with school supplies through a collection drive.
Bacon has witnessed first-hand the need for backpacks and school supplies as she volunteers at the food pantry. This year, she has a list of 200 South Hadley students whose families aren’t able to afford the necessities.
“We try and do the very best we can,” said Bacon. “They’re having enough trouble getting food, never mind getting their kids through school.”
Five years ago, Bacon decided to do something about this issue, and founded Operation Backpack.
Last year, the team donated 325 backpacks to students whose families asked for help.
With Sheila Adams and Norm Picard, Bacon collects school supplies and backpacks. This operation is year-round – as is the need.
South Hadley residents and businesses are asked to help.
Residents can donate in three ways.
First, they could purchase a backpack.
Second, they could purchase supplies from a wish list.
Thirdly, they could donate via check or a Walmart or Target gift card, which would be used by Bacon or Adams to purchase school supplies that might not have been donated as much as others.
Drop off locations are Saint Patrick’s Church, Newton Street Dental, Berkshire Bank on Lamb Street and the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry.
Checks may be made out to Operation Backpack and mailed to Sheila Adams, 36 Chestnut Hill Road, South Hadley.
Operation Backpack assists year-round. So if a backpack given to a student in the beginning of the year breaks, the student’s parents can call Operation Backpack and receive a new one.
If the student uses all of their pencils, markers or pens, Operation Backpack will restock his or her supply.
The organization will deliver to a student’s house or discretely to his or her school.
“Some of the parents come in and cry,” said Bacon.
Although she doesn’t have any children in school, “It’s so worthwhile,” said Bacon. “To see these kids look at the backpacks and just about fall over. And the parents are so grateful. It’s nice to see. This is our future.”
To contact Bacon to set up a donation or to inquire about receiving a backpack or supplies, call 413-887-9203.

Items needed include:
Colored pencils
Yellow highlighters
Post It notes
Subject dividers
1” ring binders
Lined filler paper
Zippered pen & pencil holders
USB zip drives
Black composition books
1, 2, 3 subject notebooks
Portfolio folders with pockets
NO Trapper Keepers
Monetary donations

Drop-off locations:
Newton Street Dental, Newton Street
Berkshire Bank, Lamb Street
Saint Patrick’s Church, Main Street
NHN Food Pantry, Carew Street

Make checks out to:

Operation Backpack
Mail to: Sheila Adams
36 Chestnut Hill Rd.
South Hadley, Ma, 01075.