Local Hospital Staff Donates School Supplies to over 60 N. County Children in Need
Children from ECHO, North County Women’s Shelter and N. County Social Services Received 60 Backpacks from Twin Cities Nurses & Staff
The program, founded in 2006 by Cyndi Allan, RN, at the Emergency Department at Twin Cities Community Hospital, started with a small group of nurses who managed to provide classroom essentials for 25 North County pupils; this year, the hospital’s cross-departmental participants collected 60 backpacks and donated $1000 to augment any backpack that needed additional supplies. Since its first year, Allan says Way Cool Back to School has helped over 500 local children from the ages of 3 – 17.
“Shelter families often can’t afford to buy the simple staples for starting the school year—the pencils, pens, paper, scissors, notebooks and even healthy school snacks that make kids feel prepared and confident to succeed at school,” Allan says.
Way Cool Back to School customized and delivered backpacks for 20 individual children at RISE women’s shelter in Paso Robles and ECHO women’s shelter in Atascadero prior to the beginning of the school year. An additional 40 backpacks went to children in Social Services of Paso Robles and Atascadero.
“It’s easy to think, ‘Oh, it’s just a backpack; it’s not a long-term solution,’” says Allan. “But, in reality, these backpacks stand for a much larger purpose and promise. Every child that walks away with a backpack on his or her back carries a lesson about what it means to care about your community and to show empathy for those in need. They’re just school supplies, but they’re also tools for a richer, more meaningful life.”
Allan and other volunteers of the program spread the word about the effort by posting sign-up sheets on staff bulletin boards and break rooms throughout the hospital. As a result, they received a good number of donations from all departments this year, including the Emergency Department, ICU, Med/Surg, Lab, HR Department and Administration. Allan says she would like to see even more people get involved.
“This is a simple, fun cause that anyone can be a part of—not just hospital staff. By putting together some basic school supplies, you can make a huge impact on a child’s school year, and contribute to a brighter future in our community.” She says backpacks are still needed and can be dropped off at any local Social Services office. Lists of supplies that are needed for each grade level can be found at the various school supply stores around the community or visit http://www.school-
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