Operation Backpack 2018

Operation Backpack donated backpacks and other school supplies to 573 Northfield students in need during its distribution day in August 2018. (Photo courtesy of Marge Randolph)

For the 27th year, Operation Backpack is bringing much-needed school supplies to Northfield Public Schools students in need.

Operation Backpack, organized by Northfield United Methodist Church in collaboration with the Community Action Center, distributes the supplies at 10 a.m. Aug. 21 in the downstairs level of the Community Action Center, 1651 Jefferson Parkway. Children can pick out a book from the Northfield Public Library, and library volunteers will read to children. Snacks and activities are planned, and free- and reduced-price lunch applications will be on-hand.

As part of the program, committee members, using teacher-supplied lists, purchase backpacks and basic school supplies. The CAC identifies families and invites participation.

This year, organizers hope to assist approximately 600 people, similar to the 573 people last year, and are pledging not to turn anyone away. There is an application process involved, and the people who are typically served are living at 200 percent of the poverty level or below.

The event began with approximately 175 children and has expanded every year as the need has grown.

Organizer Anika Rychner said the reason for that growth is a lack of affordable housing that has stretched people’s resources, resulting in items like food, clothing and school supplies straining a family budget. She said that is especially tough on residents who live on fixed incomes.

“If your expenses outweigh what’s coming in, then you look to your community to help you, because your kids need school supplies,” she said. “I think we all know as a parent, this is the time of year that’s expensive. When kids go back to school, they need shoes, they need backpacks, they need supplies.”

Registration forms in English and Spanish are available on the Community Action Center’s website.

The Operation Backpack Committee says cash assistance, additional donations of new backpacks and other new school supplies are welcome. Financial donations can be given to the Community Action Center online, by mail or in-person and marked for Operation Backpack.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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