TOLEDO – United Way of Greater Toledo has changed its back to school season logistics, now distributing thousands of classroom supply kits, as well as leveraging corporate dollars to purchase Google Chromebooks, software and hotspots for at-home learning.

“United Way has completely shifted its operations because of COVID-19. Not only have we re-routed our day-to-day work, we are striving to safely execute and re-scale our largest community events, without losing their impact,” said Wendy Pestrue, president and CEO of UWGT.

This is in reference to the nonprofit’s annual Kickoff to Caring, which gathers more than 1,000 volunteers to pack 5,000 backpacks full of supplies for students in need across Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties.

“Unfortunately, we cannot host a large event like Kickoff to Caring this year. That being said – the needs of students are still very real, so we must respond,” she said.

After consulting with several community-based organizations and local school districts, UWGT has already packed, and will distribute, 4,000 school supply kits to Toledo Public Schools, Salvation Army, Kinship Navigator Program (Area Office on Aging), Lucas County Foster Care and Sylvania Area Family Services. With learning predominately taking place in an online environment this year, there was an expressed need for at-home classroom materials such as pencils, pens, glue sticks, notebooks and markers.

“Whether kids are physically in the classroom or learning virtually, they need supplies. With school operations being logistically fluid, we wanted to ensure that, whatever opportunity we helped make possible, the academic needs of students took center stage,” Pestrue said.

UWGT’s Wood County office will still distribute 336 backpacks full of supplies to their Salvation Army office for curbside pickup. Dial 211 to reserve a bag. Wood County residents only qualify.

In addition to these items, in early June, UWGT’s Digital Strategy Committee leveraged a $25,000 gift from the Accenture Detroit office. The dollars specifically went to TPS for the purchase of Google Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

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