It’s back-to-school time again, and the first day for Fort Wayne Community Schools will be on Tuesday, August 13th. Here at the township, we are ready as we meet with client families gearing up for the new school year. While some children may wish for an endless summer vacation, there are others who look forward to the start of a new school year… getting back to some structured time to learn new things, meeting new friends and spending time with kids they only get to see at school.
For many families this is an exciting time of year as they take their children shopping for new clothes and new school supplies. But for some families the extra spending needed from their budgets for children to go to school presents a financial hardship. Here at the township, we understand that struggle, and we try to help with that in several ways by ramping up the back-to-school activities in several of our departments.
When parents in a household are already struggling financially, spending money on books, clothes and other needed school items often means that other expenses get behind. That’s when clients come to us seeking help. After reviewing a family’s income and expenditures we often find that they are eligible for township assistance, maybe for help with a utility bill or a rent payment. When we can help with those needs, we are making sure that the children in the household don’t suffer so much due to their parents’ financial setbacks.
And at this time of year there is the need for food. During the summer there are several programs around town that provide meals for children who, during the school year qualify for free or reduced lunches. These programs are a godsend but many of them end before school is back in session. During that interim period before they return to school, families often need help feeding their children. We see this as the demand on our food pantry often picks up considerably then, especially in the week before school starts. Fortunately, we are there to help people keep their children fed during that gap in time.
School clothes are another necessity we help with here at the township. Our Clothing Emporium, a store of donated items that are sometimes new and sometimes gently used, offers children’s clothes in all sizes, and we often have school uniform items like polo shirts, khakis and navy skirts and pants.
We also have stocked a school supply ‘store’ at the Wayne Township Trustee Office. This year, staff members Jennifer Welsh and Ashley Cowen are in charge of this project. They shop for, organize and load backpacks with the items required for children to start the school year. When clients are interviewed for assistance, their investigator finds out how many school children there are in the household and then gives them the number of backpacks they’ll need to get started.
In our June column we introduced this year’s winners of the Recognizing Achievement Scholarships and the Academic Encouragement Awards that the township awarded at the May Family Fun Day celebration. These scholarships, the money for which was raised without using taxpayer dollars, helped three RAS graduating students with educational expenses like book bills, dormitory items and other college necessities and eleven younger AEA scholars with new Amazon Fire Tablets.
An education is so important in the fight against poverty, and we at the township take the challenges faced by struggling families very seriously. We are ready and eager for the start of the 2022-2023 school year and hope it’s a positive and exciting time for you and your children, too.
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