HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Time to turn in those beach bags for book bags.
Nearly 2000 Holyoke school children received some much needed supplies to get ready for that first day of school.
Sixth grader Kenneth Pagan and nearly 2,000 more Holyoke students from kindergarten through high school now have fewer items on their school supplies lists thanks to the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative’s 8th annual Backpack School Supply Drive.
Several local organizations collect donations to purchase enough school supplies to fill backpacks for local children.
“We give each kid about $20 worth of school supplies,” Hampden County Sherriff Ed Caisse told 22News. “We feel like it takes a little burden off parents and a backpack so mom doesn’t have to worry about buying a backpack. We try to meet the needs of all the families.”
Supplies that help Kenneth and his mom save money.
“Since we have free things our mom doesn’t have to buy supplies so now she can save money for school clothes and food,” said Kenneth.
Students and their families also enjoyed free music games and food at McNally Field to celebrate the end of summer and start of a new school year.
Members of The Holyoke Safe Neighborhod Initiative said the free supplies have helped students focus in the classroom.
The Holyoke graduation rate has risen from 48% to 72% since the drive first began.