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Back to School: HUGSS continues to help families in need

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 10:29 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Purchasing school supplies is a major part of going back to school, but that can be a heavy burden for families struggling to make ends meet. However, there are organizations that are ready to offer help for those in need.

For instance, HUGSS or Helping Us Give School Supplies, a local nonprofit organization, provides school supplies and winter coats to children of all ages in the Anchorage School District.

During a typical school year, unlike last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers and families would fill the hallways at East High School packing, grabbing and stuffing bags of school supplies. This year, boxes are still being filled, but with much fewer volunteers and schools picking up the supplies instead.

“We’re just happy that we can do it and figure out a new way of doing it. It’s important that they start the first day being able to have the resources to start learning,” said Alan Budahl, executive director of Lutheran Social Services of Alaska.

Nearly 3,800 bags of school supplies were filled with the help of volunteers like Todd Albaugh and Luke Jones.

“I feel great, I think the past year has been, I mean it’s been hard on everybody, but I think in particular for kids and anything we can do to make this school year better it’s well worth it,” said Jones.

“During this past year the pandemic a lot of people have struggled and a lot of people they don’t have much and they go from paycheck to paycheck especially school supplies is low on the totem pole,” added Albaugh.

As for what’s in the bags, they vary by age group.

“So, the younger kids have crayons and peachy folders and big tip markers,” Budahl said. “In that 3rd through 5th, they start getting wide rule paper. And then when we get to high school, 6th grade through 12th grade, it changes again: college rule, binders, rulers, pens, pencils.”

The one thing missing this year were backpacks. However, because of a scaled-down school year last year, Budahl said they managed to purchase more supplies. He also noted that community donations helped as well.

Any leftover bags will go to the Child in Transition Program at the Anchorage School District office.

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