By Caroline Lanni Reporter

Sterling Solutions and WHEAT [Wachusett Health Education Action Team] partnered together to host the WHEAT Community Connections annual “Tools for Schools” Drive.
The drive ran from July 6 to August 6. Sterling Solutions delivered the backpacks and supplies to WHEAT on August 8.
Manager at Sterling Solutions, Sharon Moynihan said that every month their organization tries and plans something to help the communities around them.
Moynihan added that COVID-19 has made it difficult for her and the company to plan something for the communities and they are planning other events for the future based on COVID-19 restrictions.
“I saw online that WHEAT out of Clinton was collecting names of people or children that needed backpacks with supplies so I contacted the director Jodi – so we advertised on Facebook, send it out to our customers, – and then people could drop off a backpack or they could drop off school supplies,” at Sterling Solutions, said Moynihan.
She said they received a lot of supplies and about 20-25 backpacks.
Moynihan said they decorated a box and put it in their office for people to drop off backpacks or supplies.
She added, “We are relevantly new – we just opened at the end of October last year,” and they were pretty successful in helping the Toys for Tots donations at their company.
“I think it’s beneficial that kids in school if they have needs for supplies or backpacks, they should be able to get one. It shouldn’t be a strain on the family,” said Moynihan.
She added, with what they and other places collected, hopefully they can provide everyone with a backpack and supplies for the school year.
Regional Director at WHEAT, Jodi Breidel said, “The registration process for the program was from Tuesday, July 6 through August 6, however we continue to get requests well into September from clients in need who have recently moved to the area, whose circumstances have changed, or who have just learned about our program.”
“Parents and guardians register their children for these backpacks and supplies. All of the items come from in-kind and financial donations that allow us to purchase the supplies needed,” said Breidel.
This drive was run by staff and mostly volunteers.
She said that the money is raised to cover the costs of backpacks or supplies that are not donated.
“We are a resource for the schools, however, because they can refer families in their district to WHEAT.”
The Tools for School Program is an annual event, Breidel said, and she is excited to work with Sterling Solutions in the future.
WHEAT has been serving Sterling residents since 1982 and continues every day since then.
“Through these community partnerships, WHEAT can get the word out about programs and services more broadly – it widens the safety net and promotes services that focus on culture, connections and compassion,” said Breidel.
She added that due to COVID-19 the students, families, teachers, and all will benefit from this school supply drive.
“Resources are stretched, everyone is fatigued mentally and emotionally because of the pandemic, and this will be one less thing that teachers, parents and students need to worry about coming into the school year. Teachers will be able to focus on teaching, parents will be given some financial relief, and students will start off with the items they need and be prepared to learn from day one,” said Breidel.
The next programs at WHEAT coming up are their Feed-A-Family Thanksgiving Holiday Program, and their Hope for the Holidays Toy Program.
To connect with WHEAT, you can visit their Facebook page
@WHEATCC,
their website,
www.uwotc.org/wheat,
or their office at
272 High Street, Clinton

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