Whether they started the school year virtually or in the traditional classroom setting, more than 10,500 Martin County students began the school year with necessary supplies thanks to United Way of Martin County’s Tools for Success initiative. More than 260,000 supplies were lovingly assembled into supply kits to help students kick start the school year, saving local families over $83,000 in school supply costs.
The goal to alleviate the financial burden of back to school supplies was more important this year than ever before.
“The impact of COVID-19 is far-reaching and has disproportionately impacted those least able to afford it. It’s in these unsettling times that local families need extra assistance since many are worried about meeting their basic needs rather than budgeting for school supplies,” said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol G. Houwaart-Diez.
Unlike last year, the pandemic made it more difficult to collect school supplies from traditional drop-off locations. As a result, United Way focused on a virtual drive, which allowed donors to safely and efficiently purchase items that were shipped directly to its office. The extensive volunteer effort was scaled down to comply with social distancing guidelines. Thirty-eight individuals volunteered 316 hours sorting and assembling school supply kits that were delivered directly to the schools.
Despite these obstacles, the Tools for Success program effectively provided supply kits to every single student in all 11 elementary schools in the Martin County School District as well as Title 1 middle schools, including Indiantown Middle School, Murray Middle School, and David L Anderson Middle School. Martin County’s four high schools were also provided with supplies for 600 kits to have on hand for students in need.
Thanks to a partnership with Publix Super Markets Tools for Schools program, starter kits were chock full of the most common school supplies, from No. 2 pencils to notebooks to safety scissors.
Thanks to a grant from Hobe Sound Community Chest, Hobe Sound Elementary School received full supply kits for each student and additional supplies to have on hand.
“This is an unprecedented time and many families are grappling with job loss, income reduction, furloughs, anxiety about what may come, and changes in school routines. We are thankful to the United Way for alleviating the worry of providing school supplies for our students,” said Dr. Tracey Miller, chief academic officer, Martin County School District.
The program was made possible with support from sponsors including Bank of America, Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, Hobe Sound Community Chest, PNC Bank, HBK Wealth Advisors, Treasure Coast Urgent Care, Boys and Girls Clubs of Martin County, Florida Power and Light Company, CenterState Bank and Publix Supermarkets.
“While we address the unique challenges created by the pandemic, the everyday work of United Way and our partners have never felt more essential,” Houwaart-Diez said. “The impressive results of our Tools for Success program prove that together we can rise to any challenge.”