DOWNERS GROVE – The list of back-to-school supplies seems to grow every year, as any parent can attest.
So to relieve the burden that school supply shopping can have on a family's finances, local walk-in ministry Hope's Front Door is again partnering with the Downers Grove Junior Women's Club to host a school supply drive.
"We are seeing that it takes anywhere from $650 to $700 to get a child ready to go back to school, according to the National Retail Federation, including school supplies, clothes and everything they need for the beginning of the school year," said Hope's Front Door Executive Director Janell Robinson.
"That's a huge amount to have to spend in one time period. For many of our clients who are experiencing some sort of crisis, it's difficult to make the choice between (that) and other basic essentials – food and paying your electric bill."
That need became apparent several years ago, when the organization began giving out its own office supplies to families coming in for other services.
"We figured there had to be a better way of doing that, and the Junior Women's Cub stepped in and it's been a great help," she said.
Now in it's eighth year, the annual backpacks and school supply collection has helped raise more than $35,000 in items benefiting more than 725 students. In 2013, the organization collected enough items to help more than 200 students, fulfilling most of the items on their list.
This year's drive runs through Aug. 21. Residents can drop off items at several Downers Grove, Darien and Westmont locations.
Robinson said the organization is excited for this year's drive because it is offering more drop-off points than ever.
"I think we're really on track to have a big year this school year for the items that our clients and their children are going to need," she said.
The annual collection helps students in pre-kindergarten though college. More than 45 percent of the students requiring assistance live in Downers Grove while the remaining live in the communities of Westmont, Darien, Lisle, Willowbrook and Woodridge, according to the Downers Grove Junior Women's Club.
“The Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club is please to lend a hand to help ensure that students in the community attend the first day of school with all required items needed to fully participate,” club president Kelsey Austin said in a statement. “There is something really neat about seeing children, and even teenagers, display excitement about back to school supplies.”
Hope's Front Door was previously called the Walk-In Ministry of Hope.
HOW TO HELP
What's needed: backpacks, three-ring binders, colored pencils, erasers, glue sticks, highlighters, pens and pencils, pencil sharpeners, pocket folders, crayons, broad-tip markers, scissors, pencil cases, wide-ruled spiral notebooks and calculators.
Drop-off locations: Downers Grove Park District Recreation Center, 4500 Belmont Road, Downers Grove ; Community Bank of Downers Grove, 1111 Warren Ave. and 718 Ogden Ave.; Culvers, 541 Plainfield Road, Darien and 2500 W. Ogden Ave., Downers Grove; Functional Effect Fitness and Rehabilitation, 2474 Wisconsin Ave.; Prestige Liquors, 6249 S. Cass Ave, Westmont; and Lemon Tree Grocer, 5101 Mochel Drive.