In one shopping center just east of Sunset Road and Green Valley Parkway, Smith’s customers will encounter $7 school-supply kits and the barrels collecting them for students in need. In another retail plaza across the street, Dollar Tree encourages its patrons to fill up a box with purchased pens, notebooks, binders and the like so nonprofit Operation Homefront can distribute them to the children of deployed military members who are financially struggling. Those two storewide efforts aren’t even included on Clark County School District’s online list of school-supply donation campaigns—a list that recently grew to the double-digit mark.
There’s no hard data for 2014-2015 available yet—though the local affiliate of the Communities in Schools dropout prevention and intervention organization is preparing to assist more than 45,000 pupils with its on-campus resource/supply rooms—but if the staggering amount of low-income Title I schools and free/reduced-price lunch recipients are any indication, things certainly aren’t getting better for the Valley’s student body. “We have a high percentage of those kids,” says CCSD Public Information Specialist Dave Sheehan. “And we have a lot of homeless kids.” During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly 9,300 students out of 314,643 were homeless, underscoring the need for outreach and support organizations such as CCSD’s Title I HOPE and independent nonprofit Project 150.
Some drives remain yearly, like CIS’ Fill the Bus event, taking place August 21 and 22. A similar fill-and-deliver event happened on August 11, as school supplies collected by Cox Las Vegas employees were delivered to two nonprofits—Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth and Olive Crest, the latter aiding at-risk, abused and/or rejected kids—for the 11th year in a row. Contrast that to a patron-driven supply drive by Bank of Nevada resurrected after a few years of dormancy, says its marketing officer Walaya Rivera. “In many ways, the economic recovery so many people are experiencing has not trickled down to these families, so there is still a need.”