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Fairfax nonprofit Britepaths organizes school supply drive for students in need

Britepaths staff met with Jim McKay Chevrolet, a sponsor of Willow Springs Elementary School in Britepaths’ 2023 Back to School drive, at the dealership to celebrate the partnership on July 13 (photo by Abra Kurt)

As the upcoming school year approaches, many families face the difficult task of purchasing a lengthy list of school supplies when money for housing, food and other life necessities is already stretched thin.

One local organization is working to alleviate this stress for thousands of Fairfax County families.

Fairfax-based nonprofit Britepaths is seeking community donations for its Back to School Drive, which can be made through its website until Aug. 31. Checks, made out to Britepaths, can also be mailed to 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 with “BTS23” as the memo line.

The funds will provide new backpacks and school supplies to 2,500 Fairfax County Public Schools students in need, according to a press release. A donation of $25 will provide supplies and a backpack for one student.

“It is incredible to think about the fact that Fairfax County is one of the five wealthiest counties in the country, and yet one in 14 children in our community lives in poverty,” Britepaths’ Executive Director Lisa Whetzel said. “…Community members who sponsor students in our Back to School campaign are doing so much more than providing supplies and backpacks. They’re helping young people whose lives can be stressful start off the school year with confidence, dignity and the tools they need to succeed.”

Recipients of these supplies include elementary schools — Daniels Run, Eagle View, Providence, Willow Springs, Bailey’s Upper and Glen Forest — as well as high schools like Fairfax, Fairfax Adult, Justice, and Lewis.

Organizations may also choose to sponsor or cosponsor all students at a specific partner school. This year, local car dealership Jim McKay Chevrolet chose to sponsor Willow Springs students.

“Our personal connections to Willow Springs Elementary School and knowledge of the work that Britepaths does made it an easy decision to become a sponsor for Britepaths’ Back to School program,” Jim McKay Chevrolet President Kathy McKay said. “We hope the community will join us in supporting this effort to ensure that students are ready to learn at the start of the school year.”

Britepaths has been supporting Fairfax County and Northern Virginia residents in need since 1984. It aims to “stabilize families with supplemental food and financial assistance” and “build resilience through financial education and workforce development coaching and IT training,” the press release says.

In 2023, the nonprofit assisted 11,000 individuals in over 7,000 households using community funding and volunteer support.

For more information, Britepaths can be reached by phone at 703-273-8829 or by email events@britepaths.org.