The East Cleveland-based nonprofit has been gearing up for two upcoming events — one of them taking place this Saturday — with that as the end goal.
The Refuge, which offers a variety of programs to help people in the community, assists families by giving away backpacks of school supplies to those who need them at the nominal cost of $1 per bag.
Terry Johns, president and director of operations of The Refuge, said the organization gathers the lists of supplies public school students need and chooses to fill backpacks with as many of those items as resources allow.
“We pick the major items that are common,” Johns said, listing a variety of supplies ranging from colorful boxes of crayons for elementary school students to college-ruled paper and pens for high school students.
Though the backpacks only cost $1 to those receiving them, Johns estimated the value of the packs and their contents at about $50 each.
“Backpacks themselves are fairly expensive, too” Johns said, adding that buying a bag without any supplies in it could be a hardship for some families.
Families can receive backpacks by calling or emailing The Refuge to register their children to be part of its backpack program. On Aug. 3, children will be able to choose their backpacks from multicolored selection available at the organization’s 1075 Blythe Ave. location, and enjoy games and refreshments at a park just outside.
In the meantime, another event will be taking place Saturday to raise money for the one in August.
The Refuge will be hosting a used book sale Johns said he hopes will both raise money to give backpacks and school supplies to children and be a chance for families who cannot normally afford them to buy good books to enjoy together.
“One of the things ... we encourage is reading literacy,” Johns said.
Kelli Kyle, vice president and director of community involvement, said all books in the sale will be priced between 25 cents and $3. Thousands of books have been sorted and priced, and all of them were donated to the cause from various individuals and businesses, including an area used bookstore.
The Books For Backpacks sale will take place this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Living Word Church, 930 25th St.
In addition to perusing used books, shoppers at the sale will be able to meet local authors Evie West, Pete Vanderpool and Wendy Brown, who will be selling and signing copies of their books to support the cause. Refreshments from local vendors will be sold at the event, and activities will be available for children.
Those who want to help with The Refuge’s backpack program but cannot attend the book sale will have other opportunities to help as well, said Kyle. Donation barrels for school supplies will soon be placed at retailers around town. On July 26 and 27, school buses will be parked outside stores for a “Stuff The Bus” event hosted in partnership with the United Way. Shoppers will be asked to purchase school supplies and literally “stuff the bus” with them. The exact locations and times have not been finalized.
For more information about The Refuge and how to help with its cause to help kids get ready for school, visit www.therefugecommunity.org or call 584-5211.