Rotary program gives away 200 backpacks to children in Camas and Washougal

Starting school off right

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Picking out school supplies and a new backpack is a much-anticipated tradition in most families.

However, due to household budgets that have been stretched to the breaking point, many school kids begin the new year without these items.

But thanks to the generosity of the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club’s backpack program, 200 local elementary school students started classes on the right foot.

“Eight years ago this program donated only 25 backpacks to students in need, today that number has risen to 200, thanks to support from the community and other Rotarians,” said Rotarian Jim Curry, program chair. “We’re hoping next year to include some high school appropriate backpacks and supplies to continue to grow the program.

This year, contributions to the program totaled nearly $3,000, with backpacks purchased at a discount from Columbia Sportswear and JanSport.

Dawn Tarzian, Washougal School District superintendent and Rotarian, delivered the backpacks to school principals with the assistance of fellow Rotarian and Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland.

“My appreciation to the Rotary Club is immeasurable,” Tarzian said. “School supplies have gotten very expensive and a good quality backpack can be financially beyond the reach of many of our families that are working hard to make ends meet.”

She added that the students are being provided with more than just supplies.

“Being ready for school builds confidence in young students, who will start school feeling prepared and ready to learn,” Tarzian said.

Laura Bolt, Hathaway Elementary School principal, said the timing was “perfect.”

“We gave 26 backpacks away at our back-to-school night,” she said.

Cape Horn-Skye Principal Mary Lou Woody was impressed by the quality of the backpacks.

“Wow! The school supplies inside each one are perfect,” she said. “Our boys and girls will be so happy.”