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Friday, August 2, 2013

Helping prepare Howard County kids for school this year

     Living in our high income community you maybe surprised at the number of children who will be returning to school this month without the necessary school supplies because of the cost of those supplies.  Many of us remember a time when school supplies were all supplied by the schools.  With tight budgets many schools now require parents to buy these supplies.  This can be a burden for many low income families in our County that struggle to afford the costs associated with "back to school."  We not infrequently hear of teachers buying the school supplies for students in their class who come to school without those supplies.  Just because we don't directly see this problem, as the teachers do, doesn't mean that we should overlook this need with our students.
      Fortunately because of the work of a local group we have an easy way to do our part in rectifying this need.  The program is called "Prepare for Success (PFS)."  I recently received some information on this program from Roy Appletree and want to share the information he sent to me on this program:

" Many of you know it as 'The Backpack' program.  PFS was started locally 12 years ago when Mike Clark, the former Baltimore Sun reporter was directing Christ Church Link, a ministry of Christ Episcopal Church.  Mike observed the large number of students who were returning to school without adequate supplies.  Twelve years later the effort has morphed into a formal partnership among PFS, the Community Action Council, and the Howard County Public School System.  PFS supporters include a wide range of individuals, businesses, churches and civic groups.  For example, one of the largest supporters is the non-profit, Howard County Summer Theater.  Each year they share a major part of their proceeds with PFS.

    Roy and Susan Appletree are the current co-coordinators of PFS.  Roy is a retired non-profit manager and Sue is a retired school teacher.  They both have learned firsthand about the challenge facing so many students.  They say the only thing to change in their 6 years of volunteering is the need.  When they became active in 2008 there were 5,900 or 11.3% of Howard County students who relied on federally funded school meals (FARMS).  Now the number is 18.2%!  This percentage proves to be a shock for many people.  Unfortunately, the economy just hasn’t turned for these families who strain to afford adequate nutrition let alone required school supplies

      If you purchase extra school supplies you can look for the donation box at all Howard County Libraries and all Columbia Village offices. If you want to make a donation, PFS can supply a student with a new backpack and supplies for just $25.00 per student.  100% of all contribution go for supplies.  Here are the direct options for helping:"
                Send a check payable to:  Community Action Council / PFS to:
                    Community Action Council, 6751Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046.
                Sponsor students via credit card through CAC’s website:

You can learn more at



Jessie said...

Hi Duane, Great post and the tag to use is hocoblogs@@@. (You had @@@hocoblogs.) :-)

Anonymous said...

How many teachers buy supplies for students? I went to HoCo schools and that never happened.