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Back-to-school benefit: Groups offer support to students, local charity efforts

Posted 7/18/19

By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia

Back to school season is underway and one local charity needs help right now to make the coming school year a success for deserving area children.

The …

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Back-to-school benefit: Groups offer support to students, local charity efforts


By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia

Back to school season is underway and one local charity needs help right now to make the coming school year a success for deserving area children.

The Salvation Army Sun Cities West Valley Corps next week hosts their annual back-to-school event, which will provide 400 needy students some new clothes, a backpack and school supplies.

But while organizers say they have funding for the clothing locked down, the group still needs more supplies for the event, according to Fred Folden, a special events and volunteer coordinator for Sun Cities West Valley Corps.

“Back to School is what it’s called and we do it every year,” Mr. Folden said. “We have a lot of volunteers at this point, but we are still short in back-to-school supplies. They still need more three-ring binders, backpacks, composition books, folders, paper and scissors. That’s what we’re short on.”

The annual event starts on Wednesday, July 24, when volunteers will pair up individually with school children, who will each get a gift card to spend on back-to-school clothes during a shopping spree hosted at the Walmart in north Peoria.

On the following day, Thursday, July 25, those same students will go to the Sun Cities West Valley Corps in Surprise, where they will select a backpack and items from a buffet of school supplies.

“What we do is each child gets to spend $75 at Walmart just for back-to-school clothes and a volunteer will shop with them,” Mr. Folden explained. “Once we finish with all 400 kids, we’ll come back here to the Sun Cities West Valley Corps and the next day we will allow the same kids that shopped at Walmart to come through and pick a backpack that they want, they can pick a binder that they want, they can pick the paper they want, pencils and colored pencils.”

The Salvation Army raised more than $30,000 in donations to take the students shopping for clothes and they’ve received generous community support to gather the backpacks and supplies, he said.

“Thank goodness to our donors and thank you, God, for helping us out,” Mr. Folden said. “We’ve raised enough money for the 400 kids. Now we’re just trying to come up with more supplies.”

He said while his organization will be able to help 400 children, more students applied for the program than they can serve immediately. A wait list already contains dozens of additional students, who also qualified for the assistance this year.

Any surplus school supplies received will be distributed to students who need them for the coming fall semester, Mr. Folden said.

Other efforts

Among the volunteers next week will be some employees from Independent Newsmedia, Inc., the national community newspaper chain and parent company of Daily Independent and 10 other Valley papers.

Greg Garcia, an ad sales rep for the news outlet’s West Valley publications, said he is looking forward to participating.

“I love giving back to the community,” Mr. Garcia said. “To see the smiles on the children’s faces when they are able to pick out the clothes and shoes and supplies they want, I think that really helps them feel good about themselves.”

Mr. Garcia, who serves on the Sun Cities West Valley Corps board of directors, also serves on the board for Independent Newsmedia’s local charity initiative, Charity Begins at Home.

The effort was launched after the organization was awarded a $40,000 grant from the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy in October.

The campaign provides assistance in the form of advertising support to nonprofit and charitable organizations, according to a May press release announcing results from the first quarter.

“Community service is the driving force behind Independent Newsmedia,” said Publisher Charlene Patti Bisson. “We are committed to strengthening our communities through quality journalism, civic engagement and supporting those local efforts that deserve attention and assistance.”

The campaign benefited more than dozen local nonprofits during the first quarter alone and more support is available for those groups who want to apply, Mr. Garcia said.

Apart from advertising support, the community news outlets can help promote chartable programs and events through its editorial coverage as well.

To learn more about the Charity Begins at Home campaign, email charity@newzap.com.

Giving back pays

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, those who donate to qualifying charity groups can receive an income tax credit. Individuals can claim up to $400 annually or $800 for joint filers for making monetary donations.

And donors no not need to itemize their deductions to get the tax credit, according information at the agency’s website.

“This individual income tax credit is available for contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations that provide immediate basic needs to residents of Arizona who receive temporary assistance for needy families benefits, are low income residents of Arizona, or are children who have a chronic illness or physical disability,” officials stated at the website.

Those interested in donating – or in filing for the tax credit having already donated – can search an online list of qualifying charity organizations and qualifying foster care charitable organizations.

The necessary tax forms, Form 321 and Form 352 respectively, are available to download as well.

Visit azdor.gov to learn more about the tax credits.

More help needed

While Salvation Army officials said they have enough volunteers committed for next week’s shopping spree, the group is already looking for help for the coming Christmas season, Mr. Folden said.

“As you know Christmastime is coming. Last year we served 1,441 children for Christmas, giving the kids and their families toys and food,” he said. “During the holidays, we need volunteers for bell ringing, the Angel Tree, Adopt a Family, cooking meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sorting toys and food. We have many opportunities for volunteers to help.”

Those who want to donate a backpack or supplies for next week, or learn more about volunteering with the Salvation Army, may contact Mr. Folden at (714) 420-9886 or email Frederick.Folden.Jr@usw.salvationarmy.org.