Back-to-school inevitably brings a bit of anxiety for both parent and child.  For the kid, summer’s almost over.  For the parents (let’s face it, usually the mom) there’s the stress of shopping for back-to-school supplies.

So in a perfect world, Junior Leagues wouldn’t have back-to-school programs because every kid would have parents who can buy a backpack’s worth of school supplies.

But this isn’t a perfect world.

Helping kids who need it with tools to do better at school is a tradition that goes back to the Junior League of Brooklyn, one of the first Leagues formed after Mary Harriman founded The Junior League 109 years ago, which established the model for New York City’s school lunch program that later became the model for schools across the country.

That tradition continues at many Leagues with creative back-to-school programs that ensure that thousands of kids who need it get school supplies when they need them most: on the first day of school.  With high unemployment and schools across the country facing severe budget cuts, these programs are now more important than ever.

So here is a selection of back-to-school programs by Leagues around the country:

  • At this year’s 17th annual Book Bag Project, the Junior League of Annapolis will donate school supplies for more than 1,000 children at Title 1 schools in Anne Arundel County. Since the project’s inception in 1993, The Junior League of Annapolis has filled backpacks for more than 16,000 children.
  • At this year’s third annual Back-to-School Fair, the Junior League of Arlington, with the support of community partners, local contributors and area volunteers, will provide new backpacks filled with school supplies to approximately 1,500 children.  The Junior League of Arlington’s community partners will also offer helpful information to families about after-school care, mentoring and tutoring programs.
  • For the 10th year, the Junior League of Bryan-College Station’s Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive will provide free school supplies to children who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch programs in both the Bryan and College Station Independent School districts. In 2009, the League donated supplies to over 13,000 children.
  • For more than a decade, the Junior League of Saint Petersburg’s Back-to-School Care Fair has provided eligible children with physicals and immunizations as well as school supplies.  At the event, families have on-site access to more than 50 community agencies that can provide information about the services available to families and children.
  • Since 1998, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana’s League Locker has partnered with local businesses to supply thousands of dollars worth of school supplies to local schools for students who cannot afford the necessary supplies.  Until 2009, JLCU volunteers stocked “lockers” to distribute directly to each school so teachers could access supplies as needed.  Last year, the program was expanded from lockers to a warehouse where teachers are invited to shop free of charge for materials.
  • In 2009, Operation School Supply at the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach was able to collect and distribute directly to local schools 47,000 individual items of school supplies.  JLNVB partners with a local news station to promote donations from the community.