Olivia started her first day of fourth grade a few days late. The week prior, she moved in with her aunt more than two hours from home. The summer had been rough. While trying to cope with her father’s death and her mother’s depression, little thought was put into the upcoming school year. Olivia entered her new school with a notebook and a few pencils in her backpack. She noticed all the children were wearing white shirts and khakis while she wore a floral print shirt and pink shorts. She blushed when a student ask, “why is she wearing that?” Olivia sat down in her first class and the teacher instructed the students to pull out a blue or black ink pen—she didn’t have one. The same thing repeated throughout the day—no colored pencils, no highlighter, no graph paper. She felt humiliated. She told the front office she was feeling ill and asked to call her aunt to pick her up. This was not the fresh start Olivia had hoped for.

Unfortunately, Olivia’s story is not unique. Many children will be in need this school year.

Click HERE for a full list of needed donation items.

Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) is collecting school supplies and new or gently used uniforms to help children like Olivia prepare for a new school year. Canopy serves more than 4,200 children across the state each year, some receiving help following traumatic events or for debilitating challenges.

“Many of the children who come to us in emergency situations come with just the clothes on their backs,” said Cindy McCarley, Director of the Warren County Children’s Shelter. “They already have so much to process with what is happening in their lives and being away from home. The last thing we want them to worry about is whether or not they will have what they need for school.”

Canopy is the state’s most comprehensive provider of children’s behavioral health, educational and social service solutions serving all 82 Mississippi counties. The children Canopy serves struggle with ADHD, trauma, behavioral health challenges, autism, while some are foster children or are living in a crisis shelter following neglect or abuse. In addition to meeting the emotional needs of the children and families it serves, Canopy also tries to help meet the physical needs which can put added strain on an already stressful situation.

“Preparing children to go back to school can be a very stressful and costly time,” said Canopy Child & Family Advocate Tonja Smith. “Having supplies and generic uniforms donated helps not only the kids, but also takes the burden off parents who live on small budgets. We want to empower our youth to be successful in school by meeting their emotional and physical needs. Poverty should never be a barrier to learning.”

Canopy offices across the state will collect school supplies and new and gently-used public school uniforms throughout July and August. Donations will benefit families in the local community. For more information about how you can help, or other ways to get involved, please contact Traci Grubb at 601-352-7784.