Charles County School-Supply Drive Lags in Donations

Steve Sloan, a volunteer, and Sharketer Butler, an employee of the Children's Aid Society, pack donated school supplies to be given to Charles students. The charity's director says that donations are down by about 75 percent.
Steve Sloan, a volunteer, and Sharketer Butler, an employee of the Children's Aid Society, pack donated school supplies to be given to Charles students. The charity's director says that donations are down by about 75 percent. (Courtesy Of The Charles County Children's Aid Society)

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By James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009

For the second year in a row, the Charles County Children's Aid Society is blaming the economy for lagging donations to its annual drive for school supplies. But this year, the situation is even worse, officials say.

"Right now, I'm not even joking, we are about 75 percent down," Executive Director Maria Bryan said last week. "Donations are barely trickling in."

For about two decades, the society has helped equip the young and needy of Charles with basic supplies for school. About 1,000 children have benefited annually in recent years.

"Pens, pencils, paper -- things that cost 10 cents, that's what we need," Bryan said.

For families with three or four children in school, the supply costs can exceed $100.

"If a kid goes to school the first week without any supplies, they're already behind," Bryan said.

Many nonprofit agencies have struggled to meet fundraising and other goals as demand for services has surged. But the economic slump has hit the Children's Aid Society particularly hard.

The 78-year-old charity provides emergency assistance, including food, clothes and money, to families with children younger than 18. Last year, it had to scale back its largest project, the Christmas Connection, which provides food and gifts to 3,000 low-income children. Bryan said the group turned down record numbers of requests for help.

She said she hopes that the society will collect enough school supplies for children who need assistance. The group will distribute the items from Aug. 17 until Labor Day.

Donations are being accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 3000 Huntington Circle. The St. Charles Towne Center mall in Waldorf is also collecting supplies in a bin near the guest services counter.

For information about the Children's Aid Society or the school supply drive, call 301-645-1561 or visit childrens-aid-society.org


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