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Help at-risk kids get ready for school

Back to school will look different this year. But there’s still ways to help at-risk kids get ready for Palm Beach County’s proposed online start and eventual brick-and-mortar reopening.

“These kids are doing their lessons at home. One child was doing her lessons with a crayon; that’s all she had,” said Jim Gavrilos, president/CEO of Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, that connects public schools to business and philanthropy.

This year, their annual school supply drive will serve 63 schools, none of them in Boca yet, but as close as Delray and Boynton, said Teresa Dabrowski, chief engagement officer. “People can fundraise as a team or donate,” by texting pbcbackpack 4144 or through

“Every donation helps,” she said. “We’ll be doing this all summer. This is our big push with the start of the new semester. We do this all-year round. Our goal is soon to serve every school is the district.”

The foundation keeps an Amazon wish list going online. “The top supplies needed are all essential items…copy paper, pencils, markers. Copy paper can be so expensive,” she said.

Red Apple Supplies was started so teachers wouldn’t have to buy their students what they needed. They were spending an average of $875 before the Education Foundation stepped in, their survey said.

This time, school supplies will be distributed at the schools’ food distributions sites. Last year, donations helped the foundation provide 4,000 elementary schools students with backpacks filled with supplies.

“A backpack of supplies might not seem like much to us.  But to a young child, starting a school year without the supplies they need to learn can be devastating to their sense of dignity and worth,” Gavrilos said.

By Marci Shatzman