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Help Area Kids Get ‘Ready for School’ with Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons’ “Ready for School” initiative helps tens of thousands of local kids. Here’s how you can get involved.

Preparing for a new school year is both exciting and stressful; but for families with limited resources, even the parts we may consider “exciting,” like picking out a new backpack, become a source of stress. In the greater Philadelphia area 300,000 children live in poverty, and for families that are struggling to make ends meet with monthly expenses like rent and groceries, the added cost of school supplies can be overwhelming. Meanwhile, for kids in these circumstances, starting a school year without the tools they need to succeed can put them at both a practical and emotional disadvantage.


With this in mind, Cradles to Crayons created its annual “Ready for School” initiative. Through this campaign, they are able to distribute new backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies and custom “KidPacks” filled with shoes, clothing, and more, to help kids start school prepared and excited to learn.


The signature event of the “Ready for School” initiative is the Backpack-A-Thon, two energetic hours during which more than 600 corporate volunteers come together to fill 30,000 backpacks, assembly-line style! The backpacks are then distributed to local children in time for the first day of school. To accomplish this feat, Cradles to Crayons has partnered with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. This will be the event’s 11th year, and it will take place on August 16 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.


While the Backpack-A-Thon is a private event limited to corporate volunteers, there are still ways to support the initiative and help local kids starting school.


Locations around the Philadelphia area are accepting donations for “Ready for School” through September. Items like new backpacks, school supplies, clothing, and shoes are their immediate need; and you can go online to see more specifically which sizes and items are the highest priorities at the time. To close out the summer and get ready for school, consider hosting a neighborhood drive to collect these items. Then, to find a drop-off location near you, use their online search tool (or you can drop off at their headquarters).


You can also sign up to volunteer—they even have family days—at Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory, located in West Conshohocken. This is actually a great time to volunteer, because while many individuals and families sign up around the holidays, charities need volunteers all year long.


Cradles to Crayons always accepts monetary donations on their website as well. Giving through September is directed towards the “Ready for School” initiative, and just $33 provides one child with a new backpack full of school supplies as well as a “KidPack” with a head-to-toe school outfit.


The giving (and need) does not end after September. Once “Ready for School” is over, Cradles to Crayons begins their “Gear Up for Winter” initiative, which aims to provide children in need with warm winter essentials like coats. On September 29 from 10 am—1 pm, even more sites around the area—such as Smith Memorial Playground, Elmwood Park Zoo, and community centers—will participate in The Big Give, accepting donations on that Saturday and encouraging people to come kick off the campaign.


Photograph from iStock.



Contributing Writer