ALAMEDA -- Alameda's public schools don't reopen until Aug. 26, but volunteers hoping to help all pupils have a great start to the new school year are asking for donations as soon as possible.

About 1,000 students need community assistance to be ready to learn, according to the Alameda Education Foundation, which organized the backpack-giveaway program in cooperation with several other nonprofit groups. The groups would like to collect a large quantity of needed school supplies by Aug. 12, so they can distribute the filled backpacks before school starts. (Donations will be accepted after that deadline, volunteers note.)

"Students need to be ready to go on Day One with all the supplies they need," said Bill Sonneman, president of the Alameda Education Foundation and a former principal, in a news release. "If a student falls behind, they may never catch up."

AEF is working with Alameda Point Collaborative, Alameda Boys & Girls Club, Head Start, Girls Inc. of the Island City, the Alameda Unified School District and the Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families to assemble, organize and distribute the needed school supplies.

"Low-income families struggle enough just to provide food, shelter and clothing for their children," Doug Biggs, executive director of Alameda Point Collaborative, said in a statement. "They often lack the resources to buy school supplies, putting their children at risk of falling further behind their more affluent peers."


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Last year, some 900 students received filled backpacks through this program. Cash donations were used to buy 90 graphing calculators for math departments at Alameda high schools.

Donations can be left in special bins located across the Island and at the South Shore Summer Beats Concerts (held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31). A list of bin locations and needed supplies can be found at www.AlamedaEducation.org. Financial support also is requested and can be sent to Alameda Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1363, Alameda, CA 94501.