Snohomish County Toys for Tots and other groups came out to gather school supplies and food to support families on Aug. 1.

The drive partnered with Angel of the Winds Casino to gather donations during the day.

"Specifically our mission is the toys for the kids, but our other mission is to make sure our community is healthy and well, and that's what we're doing out here today," said Mary Butler, the area coordinator for Snohomish County Toys for Tots.

The local organization usually collects school supplies each year and this year with many families dealing with unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic the organization wanted to continue that work, Butler said. 

Although donations were slow coming in this year, Butler said the Snohomish County Toys for Tots will continue to gather donations and collect whatever supplies they can for the upcoming year.

"Our purpose out here today is to assist families that are so hurting," she said.

"We are looking to collect school supplies because even if the kids aren't back in a classroom learning system, they still need school supplies and their parents still aren't able to afford them," she said.

Many school districts in the county are still deciding on what their September return will look like, but even if 100 percent distance learning is the standard there will still be a need for supplies, said Butler.

"We are still expecting more need because of all the unemployment. Even though the classrooms will be online they still need notebooks, they still need journals, they still need pens, they still need pencils, they still need calculators and their parents just can't afford that," she said.

The need is greater with the extra unemployment insurance payments from the federal government ending on July 31.

"Just these last couple of days, all those people who were getting extra funding from the government have been cut off," said Butler.

The organization typically gathers supplies for schools all across the county.

"Any school that is in need, as they have the past six years, can send me an email and if we're able to fill the need we do so," said Butler.

Angel of the Winds assisted by providing the use of their parking lot for the donation drive.

Volunteers also came out to help, such as local Rebecca Onyewu, who learned about the event from a friend.

"I thought 'what a great opportunity to come out and do something for everyone.' We've all been inside, so it feels good to go out and do something for the people," she said.

Butler said the donations were coming in slowly for the most part.

"It's been really slow and I was kind of expecting that because people have their own issues," said Butler. "They're trying to make sure they are able to eat, and we understand that."

The Toys for Tots organization will continue to help in what the ways they can, she said.

Businesses and other local organizations are still collecting for the drive as well, and Butler said people can in touch with her if anyone wants to help with the drive.

The local organization's website is located at everett-wa.toysfortots.org.

 

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