Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz hosted an event Tuesday at the historic old Towson Courthouse to build support for the Department of Social Services' "Adopt-A-Student for Back-to-School" program, in which donors volunteer to purchase the necessary school supplies for county children in need.
"Every student needs the right school supplies to have a successful school year, but unfortunately, not every family has the resources to get those school supplies," Kamenetz said. "We're here today to do what the people of Baltimore County do best—to offer a helping hand to their neighbors in need."
As of Thursday, 617 students have been "adopted," which ensures they will receive everything on their school supply list by the first day of classes, Sept. 2. But if the school year started today, 447 students wouldn't be properly equipped, with more students in need being added by the day.
The program makes it as easy as possible for the donors to participate. They are provided with a list of supplies directly from the student's school to make sure each student's exact needs are met and to provide a simple shopping experience for the donor.
Kamenetz said that the average cost is just $50 to properly equip a student for the upcoming school year.
"For just that sum of money and a little time, you, too, can make a difference in the life of a child right here in Baltimore County," Kamenetz said. "This is a chance for everyone who believes in the importance of education to show their support."
Kamenetz and his staff did their part as well, sponsoring two Dundalk Elementary students, a first-grade boy and a second-grade girl, for the upcoming school year.
Malina Colon, who works in the county communications office, did the shopping this year, and said that the process is both simple and rewarding.
"It was fun," Colon said. "It's a positive feeling knowing that these kids can start school with everything they need."
The county executive's office has made it a point to sponsor a few children through the program every year, and Colon said outfitting last year's family was especially rewarding. She said the faces of the four boys her office sponsored last year lit up when the supplies were delivered. A few weeks later, Colon received thank you notes from the boys.
Deborah Moss, director of the volunteer office for the Baltimore County department of social services, added that the staff of Franklin Square Hospital in Rosedale sponsors every child at one elementary school each year. This year, due to the hospital staff's generosity, social services will not have to find donors for a single student at Hawthorne Elementary School in Middle River.
"I wish more businesses would step up to the plate like that," Ward said.
If you're unable to sponsor a child or family, the volunteer office also welcomes donations in the form of school supplies, money, or gift cards, which will be put toward creating supply packages for students who are not "adopted."
To adopt a student or find out more information, call the volunteer office at (410) 853-3024 or email Deborah Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be dropped off at the Volunteer Office, Suite 1029, 6401 York Rd. in Towson.