As summer vacation winds down and the mad rush for back to school supplies begins, employees at The Education Project, based within the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, are asking families to help donate to homeless students throughout the county.
"We especially need backpacks," Peri Stone-Palmquist, program manager told Ann Arbor.com. "Sturdy backpacks are best, and kids love the ones with characters on them."
Stone-Palmquist told Patch that volunteers are also collecting pencils, pens, markers, scientific calculators, paper, and notebooks.
Stone-Palmquist said new socks and underwear for children and teenagers, as well as toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and travel-sized shampoo also are needed because supplies are running low.
From now through Aug. 26, the Dexter community can donate school supplies at , 7200 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road. Supplies can also be dropped off at the Salvation Army of Washtenaw County, 100 Arbana Drive in Ann Arbor.
According to The Education Project's website, during the 2011-2012 school year, more than 1,300 children and youth in Washtenaw County experienced a homeless or temporary living situation, a 40 percent increase from 2010. Of those, roughly 10 attended Dexter Community Schools. The program is grant-funded and helps homeless students from all 10 school districts and public school academies in the county enroll and attend school.
Stone-Palmquist attributes the increased number of homeless youth in Washtenaw County to higher rates of poverty and unemployment.
"The face of who we're working with is very diverse," she told Ann Arbor.com. "It makes these students feel more a part of the school experience if they have the supplies. It allows them to do the work they need to do where ever they are staying at the time."
For more information about The Education Project, call 734-961-1999.