Shopping for back to school?

Pencils? Check. Pencil box? Check. Ruler? Check. Crayons? Check. Folders? Check.

For some, shopping for school supplies is simple. Each year, parents receive the annual list of supplies. They then head off to the store, fill up the cart with back-to-school essentials, and head to the checkout to purchase the items. However, for others, it’s not that simple. Some parents must cope with financial complications, and are unable to get the necessary items. So how do these students get supplies?

“There are times when teachers are forced to provide school supplies for their students,” said Cathy Grant, assistant director for the USF Office of Community Relations.

Community Relations is partnering up this year with the University Area Community Center Complex to provide school supplies to those in need. Together, they plan to distribute between 1,200 to 1,500 backpacks with supplies; Community Relations will provide 500 of those. Last year was USF’s first Tools for Schools drive. The drive provided 350 backpacks with supplies to elementary and middle schools in the Tampa Bay area. This year, Tools for Schools donations will benefit students located in Bulls Country.

“We hope that our faculty, staff and students will give generously. All children (receiving donations) are potential graduates of USF. As a premier research university, USF is obligated to make every effort to make sure that economic disadvantages do not prohibit students from being prepared to learn,” Grant said.

Donations will be distributed to first-, second- and third-grade students at the Back-to-School Fair being held at the University Area Community Center on July 10th. The fair will offer parents and students information on community services such as physicals and immunizations as well as other health and educational services available to them. Parents and students will receive a voucher for up to two backpacks per family. In order to obtain the vouchers, parents are required to visit a minimum of 10 booths at the fair. The backpacks will be distributed at the Center on July 29.

Martine Dorvil, community liaison for the University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc., said she feels that donations for this drive will have a great result on the students receiving them.

“Providing backpacks and school supplies to at-risk, low-income children can have both emotional and psychological effects. A child’s first day of school can dictate their enthusiasm and confidence for the rest of the school year. By providing backpacks and school supplies, we are give these students an even start and a feeling of belonging,” Dorvil said.

Anyone who would like to donate new and unopened supplies can drop the items off at several locations throughout the university that are being maintained by a group of volunteer coordinators.

The Back-to-School Fair will be held July 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University Area Community Center Complex located at 14013 North 22nd Street in Tampa.

For more information, contact the Office of Community Relations at (813) 974-3222 or visit .