Kathleen Duncan, known as Tia Katy to the kids of Rocky Point, has spent the last nine years dedicated to improving the lives of young people in need here. In 2016 she founded a program to help provide local children with a path out of poverty through education.
How you can help change a life with only $15
We know that education is the best tool we can give a young person to escape poverty. But what if you don’t have the basic resources necessary to even begin the school year? What if your family is struggling to meet even basic needs and simply cannot afford a backpack and school supplies you need to be able to attend your local public school?
When I started this program in 2016, I quickly learned that the high cost of school supplies is a barrier for many local students. I was shocked the first time I saw the long list of materials required by the local public schools. I was also surprised to learn that, in addition to a backpack and A LOT of school supplies, the list includes cleaning supplies, hand soap, toilet paper, Kleenex and other items that students must provide. For older students, the list also includes more expensive items such as a scientific calculator, geometry kit and copy paper. In all, the cost to purchase a backpack and everything on the list runs between $50 – $80 USD depending on the age of the student. Of the 72 students we supported that first year, none of them came from families who could afford this expense.
Early on I was able to round up donations of materials from friends and family in the U.S. and we were we were able to provide backpacks and school supplies for all our students. However, as the program began to grow, it became more difficult for me to haul large quantities of donated backpacks and supplies from AZ. So, by our third year we began focusing more in raising funds to purchase supplies for our students locally. Before COVID we were supporting 588 students which made raising $50 – $80 per student a challenge but one we were able to meet. Unfortunately, there are now more students than ever needing support to stay in school and we are emerging from this pandemic supporting more than 800 students.
The thought of raising the funds needed to purchase backpacks and school supplies for so many students to be ready to return to in-person classes in the fall was overwhelming. Quite honestly, I was not sure we would be successful. Fortunately, in late June I was connected with an organization that offered to provide our non-profit with the chance to purchase backpacks filled with school supplies at the greatly discounted price of only $15! Although we still have our work cut out for us, I am now confident that we will be able to provide all our students with the resources they need to return to in-person classes this fall. Thanks to the generosity of so many, we have already found sponsors for more than half of the backpack kits we need.
If you would like to enable a young person to begin the school year prepared for success you can sponsor a student backpack for only $15 at www.stepsoflove.org/school-supplies. If you will be visiting Rocky Point this month you can also bring donations of backpacks and school supplies and donate them at one of several locations listed on the flyer included here.