Back to School Supply Drives

Back to School Supply Drives

Sep 14, 2016

As parents, grandparents, and guardians looked over their children's back-to-school supply lists, they may have been shocked at how long and expensive they were. A backpack and supplies for a middle-schooler cost around $312, according to Huntington Bank's annual survey in 2014. Various factors like increased demand for technology, such as high end calculators and USB drives, have fueled the costs. Further, many schools are deferring basic supplies, such as tissues and cleaning wipes, from their budgets to the demands on parents already struggling financially.

Many Western Fraternal Life lodges help alleviate the pressure on families and schools in need by gathering and donating school supplies.

Hopkins No. 11 (Hopkins, MN)


Anne Leland, Rose Adams, and Pam Kotval (No. 11) with supplies gathered for ResourceWest's Back-to-School program.

Hopkins No. 11 has gathered supplies and cash donations for the Hopkins and Minnetonka school districts over the last several years. Every year, members take the supplies and hand them out to families involved in ResourceWest's Back-to-School program. At distribution, every child that needs a backpack will get one. They also will get a package of general supplies suitable for their grade level, and one or two items of their choice. No. 11 Secretary Anne Leland commented, “It is a lot of fun to see the kids be excited about school. It warms your heart to see such happy kids.”

“The school supplies are provided to students who qualify for the free or reduced-price lunches. This year, ResourceWest expects to give supplies to over 1,350 students. Our lodge wants children to get the best start possible in school. Our members have been enthusiastic about giving to the program since we first started doing so a number of years ago,” said Leland.

Seattle No. 181 (Seattle, WA)

No. 181 members and Northshore students filled backpacks.

Seattle No. 181 has also given to youth in need as they start the school year. Since the membership is spread out over several counties, the lodge supports multiple non-profit groups throughout the Puget Sound region.

One way they do this is by supporting the Little Red Schoolhouse program. This program helps over 3,600 children start the school year with basic school supplies, such as a backpack, socks, underwear, and coats.

Secretary Marjorie Bianco said, “We were told that getting adequate amounts of underwear was difficult due to the high cost last year, so we are focusing on new socks and underwear for donations, as well as monetary donations that will buy other school supplies.”

The members also worked at the school gymnasium in Lacey, WA to help sort items by age. The gym was then used as a distribution site. More information about the Little Red Schoolhouse is available at

No. 181 also helps Northshore School District's Backpacks for Kids campaign. Members gather in Bothell, WA to fill backpacks with supplies. The lodge donated over $375 to fund supplies for Backpacks for Kids. The campaign intends to distribute over 1,500 backpacks.

“We feel strongly that kids should be well prepared and excited at the start of each school year, and these back-to-school assistance programs help set the stage for educational success,” Bianco remarked.

Winner No. 237 (Winner, SD)


No. 237 members present Colome Consolidated School District with supplies. Left: Principal Anna LaDeaux, Joe Haffield, Eva Watzel, and Superintendent Ryan Orrock.

In Winner, SD, parents struggle to afford school supplies and miscellaneous items. These things end up being the responsibility of teachers to purchase. Members of No. 237 knew about this need and gathered these and other supplies to help out at Winner, Colome, Witten, and Wood school districts.

“It helps the children and teachers, which leads to a healthy school,” No. 237 Secretary Eva Watzel commented.
When the lodge gathered the supplies, they also put the Western Fraternal Life logo on each tissue box and sanitizer bottle to let the children know the lodge cares about them.

Cedar Rapids No. 262 (Cedar Rapids, IA)

“We realize how important education is and understand the monetary difficulties every school is having,” said No. 262 Secretary Marge Petrzelka. The lodge gathered school supplies for Waypoint this year. Waypoint provides 500 children with childcare and other services for people experiencing poverty, homelessness, or domestic violence. In 2015, 134 children benefited from financial assistance for childcare through Waypoint.

The supplies will benefit the children in Waypoint's after-school childcare program. In addition to items from No. 262 members, they also raise money to buy them from Staples, where the funds can go a little further. "I'm a premier member at Staples," No. 262 President Kathy Valenta said. “I used my coupons, and combined them with the 40 to 50 dollars in credit I received throughout the year from recycling ink cartridges.”

Valenta then asked Waypoint what items they needed, which included special items like scrapbook paper, crayons, glitter glue, stickers, and art supplies for their projects.

“Our lodge supports Waypoint because it gives kids a safe place to go after school. It helps the mothers to know that their kids are safe while they get jobs and get back on their feet. We really like that it helps people in difficult situations improve their lives,” Valenta remarked.

The members of No. 262 also work to support Waypoint at other times of the year. More information about Waypoint is available at


Category: Fraternal

Cindy Motsinger

Communications Coordinator

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