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The City Journals

Granite foundation hopes to provide 15K backpacks by start of school

Jul 29, 2021 11:22AM ● By Hannah LaFond

Granite School District student walking down the hall with backpack (Provided by the Granite Education Foundation)

By Hannah LaFond | [email protected]

Each year, the Granite Education Foundation holds a school supply drive to give students in the Granite District new backpacks and all the supplemental supplies they will need for their classes. This year, members set their goals higher than ever before and hope to complete 15,000 backpacks filled with school supplies by the beginning of school. 

Justin Anderson, chief marketing officer at Granite Education Foundation, explained they are raising the bar because of the need in the community. Each year social workers from schools in the district reach out to the foundation with students they know will struggle to afford school supplies, and this year the number of students was more significant than ever. 

Anderson told the City Journals that approximately 54% of students in the district live at or below the poverty level, and around 41,000 students rely on free or reduced lunches. The seemingly lofty goal of 15,000 backpacks is in response to that growing need. 

"Especially the year after COVID, the need is greater than ever before," Anderson said. "But I think word is also getting out about the services that the foundation provides, and so we have more and more schools and social workers that want to step up and take advantage of what we can help offer."

Despite the high standard, the foundation is well on its way to reaching its target. Anderson said they have several organizations committed to donating and individuals and church groups who have pitched in to help. 

Anyone who wants to pitch in can donate online at granitekids.org. The website also has a list of school supplies that they're looking for, so donors can give physical supplies instead of monetary donations. They're hoping to complete all the backpacks by Aug. 16, the first day of classes. Although, they do accept donations for the drive year-round. As Anderson said, "If someone wants to bring us a backpack in January, I will happily accept it."  

With such a significant need in the community, the foundation's work goes far beyond the school supply drive. They work on other projects throughout the year, including food pantries. The food pantry provides snack kits for children after school and full meal kits for families. Those in need can pick up the kits for weekends or school breaks to ensure that no students go hungry when they're not at school. 

"Really our main goal is to allow these kids to come to school healthy, fed and ready to learn. So, we do food; we do clothing. We do a Santa sack program and holiday assistance for children and families who might not have Christmas or the other winter holidays otherwise," Anderson said. "We work really hard to provide an equitable experience for all the kids."