August 26, 2015

Back to school season is a time of excitement and anticipation for students across the U.S., as they head to the stores in droves to purchase new backpacks, binders and myriad other school supplies. The National Retail Federation estimated that collectively, U.S. parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade would shell out $24.9 billion on back to school shopping this year.

For many families, however, back to school is a time of anxiety as they face major challenges purchasing needed school supplies within household budgets that are already stretched razor thin.

To help students in their communities, DPR’s West Palm Beach, Central Florida and Tampa offices recently participated in a series of school supply drives. Collectively, the three offices rallied several dozen DPR employees and nearly 30 owners and subcontractors to help support local economically disadvantaged students. Those offices (along with the DPR Foundation which provided additional funding) contributed nearly $11,000 in supplies as well as many hours of volunteer time to the cause.

Back-to-school backpacks, filled with supplies and ready for their new owners. Photo credit: Mimi Flatley

Tampa, Orlando Offices Pool Resources

Over the summer, the Central Florida group raised funds for 157 school backpacks, while the Tampa office raised enough to purchase 117 school supply sets for local children. More than three dozen employees participated in the drive in Central Florida alone, and 29 subcontractors and owners took part in the drive between the two offices.

The supplies went to support four different charities that in turn supplied the goods to under-resourced children in the two regions. They included Children’s Home Society and Matthew’s Hope in Central Florida, and the USO and ABC in the Tampa region.

After the supplies had all been collected, DPR volunteers gathered in the Maitland office to help stuff the backpacks that had been custom-selected with specific children’s color or character preferences in mind. “It was really cool to see everyone coming together to help,” Matteson commented.

Delivering school supplies to Matthew's Hope, near Orlando, FL. Photo credit: Joslin Matteson

Supporting Milagro Center Students in West Palm Beach

In DPR’s West Palm Beach office, Theresa Kinsloe helped organize DPR’s school supply contribution that supported the Milagro Center, a DPR Foundation-supported community organization. In addition to a financial contribution to the drive, a handful of DPR volunteers turned out to work as “personal shoppers” on Aug. 8 when the supplies were distributed to students at an event in Del Ray Beach.

“The children were each assigned a personal shopper and then escorted through to choose what color backpack they wanted and to get their supplies,” said Kinsloe. “That was pretty empowering for them.” The event that was hosted by the Giving Network also supplied each child with a new pair of shoes, a free haircut and health services including free immunizations offered through the Boca Rotan Regional Hospital.