On July 25, 2019, Arizona Helping Hands participated in the Back to School Clothing Drive at Grand Canyon University. During that single afternoon and evening, we supplied school uniform clothing, along with backpacks stuffed full of school supplies to 1,972 children in foster care. Thanks to collection drives and donations from dozens of companies, over the ensuing weeks, an additional 4,000 children received the tools necessary to start the school year successfully – but that was last year.
Early in 2020, we put plans in place, together with generous funding from the BHHS Legacy Foundation and Executive Council Charities, to repeat this success and help thousands more boys and girls this year. Then COVID-19 took control.
Our 2020 Back to School drive looks very different. Gone are the collection boxes which accumulated supplies to stuff the backpacks. There are no company volunteer groups to put the pencils, notebooks, crayons and more into the backpacks. It is not suitable to have thousands of children assembled on the basketball court at GCU. Like so many things in life, we’ve had to change everything about our Back to School Drive this year.
Instead of collecting supplies and having an army of volunteers build the backpacks, we’ve had to buy pre-stocked backpacks. Instead of corporate sponsors, we are relying on the generosity of individuals. Instead of a large facility to host a give away event, we are utilizing our parking lot to manage a stream of cars, using a no contact service to fill orders for children in foster care who have registered on-line for the items needed.