Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Youth with new backpack from Salvation Army

Service centers ready to help as back-to-school nears

Added on Thursday, August 7, 2014

First grade, third grade, and fifth grade – the cost of having three girls in elementary school can add up quicker than the passing of a summer break in Brainerd. When you start to factor in the cost of backpacks and school supplies, not to mention new clothes and shoes, the average family spends nearly $700 to prepare for school, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Just a backpack itself is expensive,” explained Shelly, a Brainerd mother with three daughters. “And of course they grow over the summer and need new clothes.”

Fortunately, there is help for Shelly and other families that may need a little extra financial boost before the school year starts. As part of The Salvation Army’s back-to-school program, school supplies and backpacks will be given to families at Salvation Army service centers all over Minnesota and North Dakota (donate to the program).

“We’ve only had one income for some time,” said Shelly. “This really helps us out a lot, and the girls love seeing what they get.”

Shelly has used the food shelf at the Brainerd Lakes Area Salvation Army in the past and heard about the back-to-school campaign a couple of years ago.

“It definitely helps,” she said. “I think everybody is struggling and this is such a blessing for us and for everybody else.”

In the Brainerd Lakes area, back-to-school donations were collected in July and will be distributed August 18 and 19. The goal is to supply 500 families in need.

It’s happening at Salvation Army centers all across the Twin Cities too, and in many cases, families do not have to preregister to receive help. If you would like to donate, or perhaps are a family that would like to receive school supplies, please contact your the Twin Cities Salvation Army location nearest to you to find out more.

“The Army has helped my family so much, and it’s great because we get to return the favor during the holidays when I go out with the girls and bell ring at a kettle,” said Shelly, who feels compelled to give back. What the family may lack in money, Shelly added, they do not lack in time and she’s made it a tradition to bell ring with her three daughters to give back to The Salvation Army that has given so much to her.

The Salvation Army’s back-to-school program doesn’t happen without the help of many partners, including: Shopko, Big Lots, Walgreen’s, Kinship Partners, United Way and Morrie’s Automotive Group. Volunteers are also provide the manpower to make the programs possible.  There’s still time to sign up to volunteer for our backpack distribution in St. Paul.

Financial gifts to purchase supplies can be mailed to your local Salvation Army or to The Salvation Army Northern Division, 2445 Prior Ave., Roseville, MN, 55113. Please note the donation is for school supplies. You can also give online.