Montgomery schools hopes to raise enough money for 50,000 backpacks

May 31, 2013

Just $10 — about the cost of a couple of large lattes — could provide a Montgomery County schools student with a free backpack full of school supplies in August.

The school system recently launched its “MCPS: Give Backpacks” drive in preparation for the next school year and has set an ambitious goal, aiming to collect enough donations to supply 50,000 students with backpacks.

Montgomery County spokesman Dana Tofig said the number of needy students in the district has grown dramatically in the past several years. The giveaway, which started in 2009, is expected to be so big this year that backpacks will be distributed to students at school instead of the district’s annual back-to-school fair held in Rockville. Last year, some families waited hours in line for a free backpack.

“The line was very long last year,” Tofig said. “Now it’s time to think of the most efficient and effective way to deliver these backpacks to students who need them closer to home.”

Schools with the highest need (based on the population of students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Price Meals program) will receive backpacks to distribute to students.

In the first year of the program, the school system gave away about 3,000 backpacks. Last year, roughly 8,500 students received backpacks.

If the drive this year reaches its goal of 50,000 backpacks, the district would have enough to supply one for every student on the Free and Reduced Price Meals program in Montgomery, Tofig said.

“Our focus is just raising awareness and hoping people will see it in their hearts to donate so we meet a need,” Tofig said.

Tofig said people can donate enough for a single backpack or sponsor entire classrooms, grade levels or students.

**School - $6,500 and up.

**Grade - $1,500 and up.

**Class - $300 and up.

**Student - $10 and up.

To donate, call 301-517-5099, visit www.mcpsfoundation.org, or mail checks to OCEP, 850 Hungerford Drive, Room 50, Rockville, Md. 20850. To become a sponsor, call 301-279-3100.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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