Helping Families for School Year in Port Angeles

by | Sep 15, 2020 | Family Support

Nearly 47 percent of the students enrolled in Port Angeles schools are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Pandemic or not, Lisa Lyon knew the annual Back to School event had to happen to help struggling families. 

Lisa manages our family support services in Clallam County and organizes our annual Back to School event. The question was how to do it safely?

“We partnered with the local food bank and made it a drive-thru event in an alley,” Lisa explained. “We asked people to wear masks and remain in their vehicles. They entered the alley from one end and we handed out school supplies. They drove through the alley and received food from the foodbank at the other end.”

Staff prepared 850 drawstring bags filled with supplies and resource information. Bags included age-specific school supplies, craft project, reading book, face masks, sanitizer, school information and COVID-related resource information.

They distributed 727 bags at the Back to School event. The remaining bags will be delivered to the school district for distribution. Because the need is great, the program is using a CARES grant to purchase additional prepackaged school supplies. These will be handed out through our Port Angeles center, the school district and the local Boys and Girls Club.

Lisa said it has been a challenging time for the families that we serve, but staff have found creative ways to assist residents in crisis. She has used texting, video conferencing and Facebook Messenger to help families connect with community resources. 

“We’re seeing an increase in food insecurity and greater demand for our food pantry. People can set up a time to stop by the center and we’ll set a food box outside for them,” Lisa said. “We also installed a Little Free Pantry outside our office so folks can get food items there 24/7.”

Since Clallam County has seen a spike in coronavirus cases, all schooling will be conducted online and our Port Angeles and Forks centers remain closed to the public.

Our doors may be closed, but we’re still here for the community and families that we serve, Lisa noted. That will not change.

Thank you to our partners for their support: United Way of Clallam County, US bank, North Olympic Library System, Port Angeles School District, Olympic Medical Center, Clallam Literacy Council, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Port Angeles Education Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles and Olympic Kiwanis of Port Angeles.