As our Child and Youth workers, residential staff, and everyone else at our two shelters have been trying to keep the kids busy during the summer, the days have flown by! Trips to local museums, splash pads, libraries and day camps helped keep the kids busy and have fun.

Our gardens are flourishing, our walls filled with art and craft projects and the boundless summer energy is spent.

We are now turning our minds, and our plans, to BACK TO SCHOOL!

This time of year brings us all back to our school days, as the weather turns to bring more comfort, the days are just a little shorter, and the stores are filled with school supplies, new shoes, and the familiar sight of locks, binders and dorm room furnishings.

This summer in particular, we are serving far more children than women, so our back to school planning is to help them feel like a normal kid when they go to their first day of school.

At Haven House we are serving 23 children, and Anselma House today we have 16.

While other children will be wearing their new backpack, have new runners for gym class, and even those packs of unsharpened pencil crayons or a new hair accessory, the children in our residential program will likely not have access to these simple pleasures.

Over the summer, and at the end of the school year, Anselma House received donations of school supplies, and a handful of adult/teen backpacks. We have filled those with the supplies we have and they are ready to go for the first day of school.

We are still in need of some basic supplies to help the kids on their first day back. If you are interested in picking up an item, here is a list of useful supplies that our kids need:

-all sizes of backpacks including small backpacks for primary aged children
-BPA free lunch containers, cold/ice packs and thermos for lunch
-supplies like pencil crayons, pens, pencil case, calculator, ruler
-Gift cards for Walmart, Old Navy, Target, etc where they can purchase gym shoes/clothes, jeans, etc.

As always, for our teens, its harder to know what to get! Gift cards are best, so they can choose the size and style of clothes.  Places like Chapters, Old Navy, Shoppers Drug Mart, are always ideal.

The first day of school will be here before we know it. And, as we have enjoyed hearing the giggles and laughter of summer fill our shelters, we will be very proud to help these kids feel safe and hopeful as a new school year starts.