United Way Alliance to distribute backpacks full of school supplies

PARKERSBURG – United Way Alliance will distribute 2,100 backpacks in 10 counties in West Virginia and Ohio through its Back-to-School Backpack Initiative, a long-standing program of United Way that has grown over the years, officials said.

The program is a partnership among the United Way Alliance, Community Resources Inc., the Family Resource Network and Huntington Bank. It is the only local program that verifies need of the recipients and ensures no duplication of services, officials said.

For the second consecutive year, United Way and CRI will jointly distribute the backpacks for Wood County students at the 2016 Youth Expo 4-7 p.m. on Friday at Parkersburg City Park. Students will need a medical card or a recent S.N.A.P. benefits statement to obtain a backpack and school supplies.

This year’s collaboration has extended into all 10 counties covered by United Way Alliance and includes government agencies, for-profit corporations, and non-profits.

Several new components of the program were added this year to meet growing needs, said Andrea Shirey, executive director of the United Way Alliance.

For the first time, those entering Pre-K through 3rd grade in Wood County schools also will receive a free, age-appropriate book and information on other United Way programs that might fill a need for their family, she said. The books were made possible through a partnership with Huntington Bank, Shirey said.

“We’re grateful to Huntington for their commitment again this year to our local families,” said Shirey. “Mike Fleak and his team have been great to work with and understand the importance of reading on-level at an early age.”

United Way and its partners have refined the process to obtain a free backpack, eliminating the need for a cumbersome application. Families need only present a medical card or a S.N.A.P. statement from one of the last three months to qualify for a backpack.


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