Arizona Helping Hands partners for annual school drive

The Lopes Center at Grand Canyon University, the stage for the Back to School program on July 25. (Submitted photo)

For the seventh consecutive year, Arizona Helping Hands teamed with community nonprofit organizations and local businesses to help children in foster care prepare for the challenges of a new school year.

Arizona Helping Hands — in collaboration with Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and the Back to School Clothing Drive — provided free backpacks, along with a complete set of clothing, to 1,964 boys and girls in Arizona’s foster care system at Grand Canyon University on July 25.

Grade-appropriate backpacks were stuffed with everything from crayons to notebooks, providing children with the necessary supplies needed to start the new school year, according to a press release.

From left to right: Karl Gentes, Dan Shufelt, Jodie Sprayberry, Sherie Siegel and Robert Smith. Leadership teams from the Back to School Clothing Drive and Arizona Helping Hands take a breather during the July 25 event. (Submitted photo)

Foundation support from the BHHS Legacy Foundation and Executive Council Charities provided major funding for the project and individual donors have stepped up by pitching in $25 to buy a new backpack filled with supplies.

“It truly takes a village to achieve such big results in our Back to School Drive and it’s a beautiful thing to see so many coming together to help children who have been abused and neglected to take pride as they go back to school,” Dan Shufelt, president and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, said in a prepared statement.

Local businesses also partnered with Arizona Helping Hands in the effort, sponsoring collection drives or by filling backpacks as a team building experience at the AHH distribution center.

This year Applebee’s and Dillard’s among many others have joined the effort. Hundreds of volunteers from Living Spaces, Fiesta Bowl, JPMorgan Chase and more worked hard to help the kids!

“It’s our goal to help boys and girls in foster care walk proud as they begin the new school year,” Mr. Shufelt said.

“Once again our community has rallied around this cause to help put a smile on a child’s face, or a spring in their step, as they embark on a new year of school.”

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