The Issaquah Schools Foundation (ISF) and the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank are partnering again for this year’s Tools4Schools school supplies drive.
Tools4Schools is a community-wide effort to provide free backpacks filled with school supplies to students in the Issaquah School District (ISD) who need financial support. Supplies are donated by community members with grant support from partners like the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Issaquah, Egger Orthodontics and faith organizations such as Our Savior Lutheran and Eastridge Church.
The program helps to remove a barrier to learning and eliminates the potential stigma for students who may come to school unprepared. Tools4School also lessens the burden for teachers and schools.
Tools4Schools originally started as backpack drives by the Issaquah Kiwanis Club in 2011. In 2013, the Kiwanis Club coordinated with the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank which then included the ISF and Eastridge Church. Since then, ISF and The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank have taken the lead on what is now called Tools4Schools.
Carolyn Kennedy, community programs manager for ISF, said this will be the second year the Tools4Schools drive will be held at Clark Elementary. The drive is 3-8 p.m. on Aug. 12.
“Tools4Schools is important because starting the school year is sometimes a burden for families,” said Erin Lonchari of the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank. “This is a great relief for them…it makes the start of the school year just that much easier.”
Students will have the opportunity to choose their own backpacks and pre-packed school supply pack. The items in the supply packs are chosen to reflect the basic materials that most students will need for the new school year. After Aug. 20, backpacks and supply packs will be available from each school’s front office.
“I love seeing the kids pick out their backpacks,” Kennedy said. “I remember there was a little girl last year who picked out a bright pink backpack with hearts on it…she had the biggest smile—she was so excited.”
The number of students served has grown, Kennedy said. “Since 2014, about 500-600 backpacks with supplies were distributed while in 2018 we distributed 965 backpacks with supplies.”
Kennedy said the group plans on distributing about 1,000 backpacks each year just in case some students weren’t able to attend the drive.
Over the years, Kennedy said the donation and drive process has become more streamlined. Now, Tools4Schools works with SupplyAllKids — a platform for donors to purchase prepackaged supply kits.
“Each school has a customized list…they pack up the backpacks with the basic essentials students need to be successful in school,” Kennedy said. “They customize it for students grades K-5 and 6-12.”
Kennedy said people can purchase the prepackaged supply kits and donate them to Tools4Schools as well as donate backpacks.
“It’s such an awesome way to support our kids,” she said.
To learn more about Tools4Schools or register to donate, visit isfdn.org/tools4school. Families can register online through the Food & Clothing Bank.