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'They're having fun getting love' | Back-to-school drives make impact on families

Alfred E. Burr Middle School students received backpacks and supplies from The Village for Families & Children's Back-to-School Drive.

HARTFORD, Conn. — As we enter the final countdown to the first day of school, many are starting to host back-to-school drivers and fairs to kick off the 2022/2023 school year.

In Hartford, Alfred E. Burr Middle School students received backpacks and supplies Thursday from The Village for Families & Children's Back-to-School Drive at the Burr Back-to-School Carnival. 

Families said events like this are vital as back-to-school shopping can be a burden for many between the pandemic and rising inflation.

RELATED: West Hartford crossing guard, 85, encourages drivers to slow down in school zones

One grandparent, Guadalupe, said her family is certainly feeling it. 

"Because you know we're short, everything is up to the sky right now," she said.  

Amanda Martinez is the proud principal of Alfred E. Burr Middle School. She said she sees firsthand the impact events and drives like this have on her students and families. 

"It releases one of those barriers from our students," Martinez said. "They feel like they're going to be prepared with what they need to be successful in school."

As one of the state's largest providers of children's mental health services, The Village for Families & Children knows when students being prepared for school helps in more ways than one. 

"We know children that are going back to school right now are under a lot of strain and one way that we can all help is to make sure that they feel confident and they have the tools and supplies they need to succeed when they head back to school," explained Derek Slap, Vice President of Advancement, The Village for Families & Children

Not only do drives like this impact the students, but they also lift the financial burden off of parents. 

"It alleviates the heavy lift off our parent's shoulders," explained Anaida Delgado with The Village for Families & Children. "I think we speak a lot about, oh the students need this, oh the students need that. And I think a big component is that it helps support our families."

Guadalupe agreed and said, "It'll help us a lot with the money, a lot, a lot. With this pandemic that's going on, I think it's perfect for the kids. And, they're having fun getting love."

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As the first day of school nears, The Village for Families & Children is still working to collect 500 backpacks to help hundreds more low-income Greater Hartford students.  

"Inflation is a real thing, and everybody is feeling that squeeze. We know that prices have increased about 15% year over year when it comes to back-to-school supplies, so this is where it really does take a village," Slap explained. "It takes all of us to ensure that our children are ready to succeed." 

The Village for Families & Children has teamed up with Staples for a back-to-school drive to provide 1,000 local low-income students with free backpacks and needed school supplies. 

RELATED: East Hartford students greeted by Gov. Lamont on first day of school

Donations of new school supplies can be made at partnering Staples locations in West Hartford, Glastonbury and West Simsbury through August 26, or at The Village’s Back-to-School Drive in-person event at these Staples locations on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Those who donate at the in-person event on Saturday will be entered to win a Staples gift card. Online donations can be made here

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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