United Way kicks off virtual school supplies drive

MORRISTOWN, NJ — United Way of Northern New Jersey is seeking help from volunteers and donations of new school supplies for its annual United Way Tools for School drive, which provides students with the basic tools needed for learning in any classroom — either in school or virtually from home.

Despite the uncertainties around how instruction will be delivered due to the pandemic, children will still need basic school supplies. The drive typically seeks to benefit more than 10,000 elementary and middle school children of asset-limited, income-constrained, employed workers and those in poverty throughout the northern New Jersey region. Suburban Essex County towns served by United Way of Northern New Jersey include the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn-Short Hills, Montclair, Roseland and Verona. 

United Way Tools for School seeks to alleviate the budget strains on families that were already struggling to afford basics such as housing and food even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“ALICE essential workers need our help now more than ever,” said Kiran Handa Gaudioso, CEO of United Way of Northern New Jersey. “United Way Tools for School offers companies, groups, clubs, places of worship, families and individuals a safe way to help neighbors facing unprecedented levels of need.”

Through a partnership between United Way and YouGiveGoods.com, donors can make an online purchase of supplies that will be delivered automatically to United Way or a partner school in the five counties served: Morris, Somerset, Suburban Essex, Sussex and Warren. Donations can be made by visiting www.UnitedWayNNJ.org/ToolsforSchool

Based on the needs expressed by local educators, United Way is collecting the following school supplies: hand sanitizer, masks, backpacks, lunch boxes, binders, three-ring notebooks, book covers, filler paper, pocket folders, composition and spiral notebooks, index cards, calculators, pencils, pencil cases, pencil sharpeners, erasers, pens, highlighters, crayons, markers, colored pencils, construction paper, glue, rulers, and scissors.

In addition, school nurses have asked for personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, and kindergarten and first grade-aged children’s underwear and socks. Gift cards that can be used to purchase items such as shoes and clothing are also appreciated. 

Last year, with the help of 225 volunteers, supplies valued at $190,000 were collected and distributed to 66 elementary and middle schools and 16 nonprofit agencies throughout the northern New Jersey region. 

For more information about making donations or holding a United Way Tools for School drive, visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org/ToolsforSchool, email Lisa.Galonardo@UnitedWayNNJ.org or call 973-993-1160, ext. 503.

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