Backpacks for Poudre

Very soon, I’ll be heading to the store with mom and dad to pick up this year’s school supplies. Pencils, pens, highlighters, a new backpack—we’re going to need a pretty big cart (especially if I want to ride in it). But as back-to-school week approaches for most of Colorado, it’s important to remember that there are some families for whom supply shopping is stressful, not fun.

In 2013, roughly 42 percent of Colorado’s public K-12 students qualified for free- or reduced-lunch programs. And while Colorado has made great progress in serving low-income students on a policy level, it’s also important to acknowledge street-level efforts to provide disadvantaged K-12 students in Colorado with the supplies they need for a successful school year.

And so, my friends, today I will eschew the usual policy discussion in order to highlight a feel-good story in the Coloradoan about organizations working to provide school supplies for low-income kids in the Poudre School District in northern Colorado.

School is Cool, an outreach program designed and staffed by Colorado State University employees, will be delivering backpacks stuffed with supplies for roughly 2,500 low-income kids this week. The backpacks are delivered to 46 Poudre School District schools, where school staff quietly distributes them to students who need them the most. School is Cool says that it has provided 32,000 disadvantaged kids with supplies since 1992.

Another organization, OtterCares, will also be handing out supplies to low-income families in Poudre School District on Friday, August 8. Started in 2010, OtterCares is the charitable arm of OtterBox, a company that specializes in making cases for smart phones and tablets.

Finally, Realities for Children, an organization that serves abused, neglected, and at-risk children, will be providing 400 backpacks full of supplies in the coming weeks.

I know, I know. Backpacks, mechanical pencils, and calculators aren’t as thrilling to talk about as teacher evaluations, online and digital learning, or amendments to the Colorado Constitution. But sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference for a disadvantaged kid.

See there? Your Thursday just got a little brighter.