Help kids in need by donating to backpack drives

With summer in full swing, school seems so far away. But many parents in our community are already worrying about the costs of school supplies.

The average family spends more than $700 each year on backpacks, school supplies and new clothes for their children. Thousands of children enter schools throughout Contra Costa County every year ready to learn, but without all the needed resources to help them get the most out of their educational experience.
Therefore, I want to highlight community organizations that are working to meet the needs of families in Contra Costa.


Project Ready-to-Learn is a collaboration between the nonprofit VESTIA and the county Employment and Human Services Department. They provide more than 1,500 new backpacks filled with school supplies to students in need. This effort not only helps them learn but provides relief for parents who are struggling financially.

The backpack drive runs through Aug. 9. There are two ways to donate: online or do-it-yourself.

Through VESTIA’s partnership with the Sydney Paige Foundation, donors can shop online for a new backpack and supplies from one source. The site allows you to choose the backpack and corresponding supplies, listed by grade levels. Visit

Community members can also shop, stuff and deliver a new, high-quality backpack filled with new school supplies. A supply list by grade level is available at
Drop off stuffed backpacks by Aug. 9 at:

Diablo Valley Federal Credit Union, 1051 Detroit Ave., Suite A, Concord. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

County Employment and Human Services Department, 400 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Call to schedule delivery at 925-521-5064.

Monument Crisis Center

Monument Crisis Center is having its Backpack Day on Aug. 3. Last year, they distributed about 1,500 backpacks to families. It is a fun day, where the students experience the excitement of back to school “shopping,” plus music, haircuts and treats.

Monument Crisis Center is accepting backpack and school supply donations through July 25 at the center, 1990 Market St., Concord. Hours are 9 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays. You can visit to see the backpack supply list.
For more information, email

Family Justice Center

The Family Justice Center, which serves families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elderly abuse and human trafficking, is working to help get the students of the families they serve ready for school.

You can drop off backpack and school supply donations until July 28 at the center, 2151 Salvio St., Suite 201, Concord. For a list of supplies needed, email

They will hold a packing event at 1 p.m. July 28 at Cornerstone Ministry Center, 390 N. Wiget Lane, Suite 130, Walnut Creek. Distribution will be at 3 p.m. July 30 at the Family Justice Center.

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at