Back to school means rounding up backpacks, school supplies and maybe some of the latest fashions. For kids who don’t have a permanent place to call home, though, just getting the basics covered can be tough.
That’s where Project Cool comes in. Organized by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Project Cool has helped more than 23,000 homeless students over the past 24 years get ready for the first day of school. Last year, it provided 1,373 kids across King County with backpacks and other supplies, according to its annual report.
This year, that’s likely to be closer to 1,500 kids, said Rebecca Roy, community projects manager.
“We have definitely seen an increase in need this year, as we have for the past few years,” said Roy. “The cost of housing has increased, which means it’s harder to make ends meet. So when somebody loses a job or becomes underemployed, all of a sudden homelessness becomes a reality.”
The organization accepts donations and volunteer time to make Project Cool a success. For example, $60 will provide one student with a new backpack filled with quality school supplies, age-appropriate books and essential health items. The kids also really need dental care supplies, such as a good toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss, Roy said.
Homeless students who benefit from Project Cool come from all over King County, Roy said. Last year, the organization helped kids in 54 zip codes. “There’s no community that goes untouched,” she said.
Volunteers are already lined up to stuff backpacks before the start of school this year, but the organization has ongoing needs.
To find out how to donate, host a supply drive or volunteer, visit homelessinfo.org/what_we_do/project_cool.php.