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Twins Ace Hardware in Fairfax is one of several donation sites for the nonprofit Britepaths’ July Back ot School drive (courtesy Twins Ace Hardware)

Fairfax County Public Schools won’t be back in session for the fall until Aug. 22, but Britepaths is getting a head start on helping students prepare for that day.

The Fairfax-based nonprofit is asking community members to donate money or backpacks for its annual Collect for Kids Back to School program, a month-long campaign that launched on July 1.

The organization’s goal is to collect 700 new backpacks and enough money to purchase supplies for 2,500 students, primarily in the Fairfax and Justice high school pyramids, according to a news release.

“Working families in our community who were already dealing with the effects of the prolonged pandemic have been further stretched by the higher costs of food, gas, rent and other necessities,” Britepaths Executive Director Lisa Whetzel said in a statement. “When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the thought of having to find funds for school supplies on top of everything else is extremely stressful.”

According to the county’s most recent demographic report, more than 13% of families have a household income of under $50,000, including 4.2% who earn under $25,000 annually. About 31% of FCPS students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, as of Oct. 31, 2022.

Now in its 38th year of existence, Britepaths provides food, financial assistance, workforce development and other services for Fairfax County residents in need.

For its back to school drive, the nonprofit has partnered with several local businesses that will serve as donation sites for backpacks through Aug. 1:

  • Alya Salon & Spa (139 Park Street, Vienna)
  • Twins Ace Hardware — Fairfax (10310-B Main St, Fairfax)
  • University Mall Theatres (10659-A Braddock Road, Fairfax)
  • Sugar Mama’s Ice Cream (11208 Lee Highway, Fairfax)
  • Cinema Arts Theatre (9650-14 Main Street, Fairfax)
  • Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce (10304 Eaton Place, Suite 100, Fairfax)

All backpack sizes will be accepted, but large ones are most needed, per the news release.

Backpacks can also be purchased through Britepaths’ Amazon wish list. Monetary donations are being accepted online and as checks mailed to 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax.

In addition, from July 11 to 31, Twins Ace Hardware, a sponsor of the program, will offer customers at its Fairfax City store the option to donate the change from their purchases to the campaign.

Schools that will benefit from the donations include:

  • Fairfax High School Pyramid: Daniels Run Elementary, Eagle View Elementary, Providence Elementary, Willow Springs Elementary, Katherine Johnson Middle School, Fairfax High School, and Fairfax Adult High School
  • Justice High School Pyramid: Bailey’s Upper Elementary, Glen Forest Elementary, and Justice High School
  • Fairfax Villa Elementary School

“We are grateful to all who are donating this summer to help ease that stress for families and allow children who might otherwise go without be able to start off the new school year unashamed and with all the supplies they need,” Whetzel said.

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