In the heat of the Arizona summer, back to school season brings excitement to many. Especially as bags begin to fill with binders, pencils, calculators and highlighters.
Jay Spector is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the nonprofit, Arizona Helping Hands, hosting a backpack drive.
“This is all about setting kids up for success to make sure that on the day one of the school year they've got everything they need in order to just focus on studying nothing else,” says Spector.
A proud grandmother of eight children, Nina McGee waited in line Wednesday.
“You're supposed to go to grandma's house and get full of sugar and get home get sent home,” says McGee. “But the sugar is still there but they just don't go home, they stay with me.”
McGee is also the children's foster mother. She says she has to keep a budget in mind while getting them ready for the school year.
“With the rising prices and gas, I drive a 12-seater van for the children,” says McGee. “Gas is really, really outrageous for me right now. But you know, we do what we have to do.”
The 10th annual back to school drive comes in a time of need for many including McGee.
“With inflation, just today, the inflation printed 9.1% year over year,” says Spector. “It's really incredible with gas prices going up food and other commodity prices going up. If we can provide that extra support to foster families, so that this is one expense they don't have to cover for their children, they're already doing a service to our community by taking children and helping them have a safe place to sleep. If we can provide that service and these products and these goods to help offset some of those expenses, it's fantastic.”
Just this week, 1,000 backpacks filled with supplies will be given to Valley foster children and 2,000 backpacks will be given before the school year starts. 600 backpacks donated from Express Pros.
After years of in-school and virtual learning, McGee says, “When COVID hit, you know, when we all had to come home, I moved everything out of my living room, into my living room into a classroom. Literally, there were desks and tables set up in my living room.”
It’s a comforting feeling for Nina and her children to know today, “It is a good day,” says McGee. “Thank you, Arizona Helping Hands, for what you do for me and my family. If it wasn't for you, sometimes I don't know where we would be.”