Costco, Giant and the Ashburn Rotary Team Up for Back to School
The Rotary Club of Ashburn, along with Costco and Giant, participated in the third annual Backpack Stuffing Day on July 28 to help financially struggling students with back-to-school shopping.
The event, organized by the Rotary Club and hosted by Automotive Quality Solutions in Ashburn, saw 600 Costco-donated backpacks stuffed full of Giant brand school supplies with the assistance of a local Girl Scout chapter.
The Rotary Club’s motto, ‘Service Above Self,’ was highlighted by Jimmy Olevson, president of The Rotary Club of Ashburn.
“Three years ago we created the backpack stuffing program,” Olevson said. “We started with 20 or 30 backpacks, and then last year was the big jump to about 200 backpacks. Now we’re at 600.”
For Olevson, it comes down to making sure every student can start the year off right.
“Last year, we had a fourth grader tell us it was the first time they ever went to school with a backpack full of school supplies,” he said. “It’s a feel-good type thing, but at the same time makes you realize that there is need, and that’s the reason why we do it.”
Apart from readiness for class, the school supplies provide a sense of confidence and establish an equalizer amongst the students.
“They can go to school and feel like everybody else,” said Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), Chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. “They can show up with the same supplies as their friends and feel more confident.”
Dr. Michael Richards, Chief of Staff for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), added, “It’s a self-esteem factor. They go to school and they need a foundation for that self-esteem. Pencils, backpacks, crayons, they’re much more important than many people think.”
Crayons, pens and pencils, glue sticks, folders, binders, paper, notebooks and other essentials don’t come cheap, and providing a school-ready backpack can be a costly hindrance for a family already under financial duress.
“Approximately 17 percent of our students are in financial need and buying school supplies can put a strain on their families,” Richards said. “It can cost around $85 to fill a backpack like that.”
LCPS is working closely with the program organizers and providers to ensure that the students in greatest need receive the backpacks.
By the end of the event the pile of backpacks easily stood above the event’s tallest adults in what proved to be a successful community-wide effort.
Modern Mechanical and Road Runner also assisted with logistics for the event.