It might be summer, but First Call for Help is preparing for school.
On Wednesday morning, employees of Nex-Tech and Nex-Tech Wireless brought the donations the companies had gathered Saturday during a donation drive at Walmart SuperCenter for the Backpacks for Kids program. The companies also each will make a $250 donation to the program.
First Call for Help has conducted the program since 1999, giving free backpacks full of grade-appropriate school supplies and hygiene products to families in need.
Last year, 656 backpacks were given out, said Laura Shoaff, project coordinator for First Call for Help. Approximately 300 have registered so far this year.
“Our goal isn’t really to see how many backpacks we can give out. It’s just making sure we’re catching the people in need,” she said.
The numbers of backpacks given out grows every year — the first year saw 250. Shoaff said that is a combination of more people needing assistance and growing awareness of the program.
Nex-Tech and Nex-Tech Wireless have been taking donations for the program for seven years, said Jenny Leiker, Nex-Tech creative solutions supervisor. This year, they conducted the Walmart drive on a Saturday for the first time rather than a Friday.
“It was good because we had people who work normally on a Friday were able to make it and said they’d never been able to make it before,” she said.
Corinna Hudsonpillar, Nex-Tech Wireless marketing and public relations supervisor, said the Saturday event was good for awareness of the program, as sports tournaments brought people out to shopping areas, too.
“They might not have been able to make it in to donate, but they’re aware of the program now and maybe they’ll stop in and donate or keep it in mind for next year,” she said.