Playtime: As back-to-school season gears up, ways to give back

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There is no avoiding that we are in the back-to-school season. There are commercials showing snazzy tweens dancing to music that came out when I was in high school, pencil and ruler-decorated displays any time you shop, and the school supply lists — which are nothing like we remember them — are overwhelming and expensive. As a kid, I loved this time because it meant topping off a shopping trip with my grandmother by eating at hot dog on a stick. While I try to work in a special trip with each kid, as a parent on a budget, our trips tend to run on more of a BOGO-shoes-and-outlet-mall-jeans level, with a grandma-bought jacket thrown in.

I was recently reminded to be thankful for my tight budget when a friend and former colleague, who runs Esther’s Place in Everett, posted on Facebook in hopes to helping a family nearby who had found housing, but was in need of back-to-school clothes. It was a great testament to all of the local ways to help/get help when I was able to direct her to the many different local options, which I have listed below.

It was around the same time I saw a Facebook ad for the Washington Kids In Transition Back To School Packing Party. On Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., people of all ages are welcome to come to the Edmonds United Methodist Church, 828 Caspers St., and help them pack bags to be passed out to kids who may have seen their last meal at school lunch. The group, which stocks closets at some local schools with snacks, toiletries and socks, was started by Edmonds moms following a news story on our area’s homeless student population. Those wanting to attend and eat pizza provided by Garlic Jim’s must bring a box of non-perishable snacks as admission.

I spoke with Kim Gorney of Washington Kids In Transition and she told me that while they weren’t able to use peanut products, they were in special need of non-perishable milk, pureed fruit pouches and cheese sandwich crackers. If you would like to donate snacks or other items, but can’t make it to the event, you can find several local donation drop-off locations HERE. If you or someone you know is in need, please contact Kim at 206-697-3385.

Beautiful Soles is an organization “dedicated to providing quality shoes to low-income and homeless children throughout our community,” founded by Demetria Lund after her son offered to give his shoes to a friend whose shoes were “too tight to play ball.” Much like Washington Kids In Transition, many of us have seen Beautiful Soles go from an idea to a non-profit making an impact through the Edmonds Moms Facebook page. They will start passing out shoes, to those 0 to 18 years old, next week and encourage you to click HERE to find out “how to help.” Beautiful Soles has a contact form on their website if you are in need, and further information can be found at www.BeautifulSoles.org.

Clothes for Kids, which provides school wardrobes for students in need who attend Headstart through 12th grade in the Edmonds School District, will open up for back-to- school shopping on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Reporting “the best back to school inventory” they’ve seen in some time, Clothes for Kids provides kids the time to browse and “shop” as they pick out “a warm coat, lighter-weight coat, one pair of shoes, socks, underwear and more.” Clothes for Kids is available to those who qualify for the free or reduced lunch programs and students and their families can obtain a clothing requisition form from their school office. The organization says that even though they have had a lot of generous donations, in order to meet the increasing demand for their services, they need additional volunteers, in-kind donations and cash contributions. If you are interested in volunteering for Clothes For Kids you can find the information HERE. You can find further information at www.clothesforkids.org or by calling 425-741-6500.

The Nourishing Network came to be in 2014 through the Foundation for Edmonds School District. Initially they partnered with the school district to serve a weekend meal program for the district’s homeless and low-income families. Per their website, “Often these students leave school Friday and do not have another meal until Monday morning.” As they have expanded, the Nourishing Network, on top of providing weekend meals, supplies holiday meals and stockings, summer meals and also hygiene products. If you are looking to donate to the Nourishing Network Pantry, you can find them at the Fair on 44th, Lynnwood’s Health and Safety Community Block Party, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The group is also trying to win a cargo van through the Campbell Nissan Big Vehicle Giveaway. To vote for the Nourishing Network or find out how to help or get help, click HERE.

McDonald McGarry Insurance in Edmonds is currently hosting a donation drive for Treehouse for Kids, a group that benefits foster kids in Western Washington. For those in foster care, back To dchool can mean a whole new school and McDonald McGarry is asking for donations of school supplies, new clothes (jeans, pants, long- and short-sleeved shirts, hooded sweatshirts,) shoes and backpacks. Monetary donations are also welcome. Located at 630 Main St., McDonald McGarry will continue the drive through Friday, September 2nd. For more information you can contact them at 425-774-3200 or info@mcdonaldmcgarry.com.

While Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind, it is always on the top of the minds of those who run Holly House. Holly House serves 2,000 low-income children in the Edmonds School District with an event before Christmas providing presents, warm clothes and other necessities. Every year they work hard to collect, not only toys, but 5,000 pairs of socks and underwear, but have yet to make the goal. They are currently holding a sock and underwear drive at Sparta’s Pizza at 76th and Highway 99. Through August 30th, they are collecting socks, underwear, and new or like-new stuffed animals to be passed out at Holly House’s yearly event. If you would like to volunteer at this year’s event, or throughout the year, you can click HERE. If you or someone you know could use Holly House’s help during the holidays, information can be found at the student’s school office.

Jen Marx— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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