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North Hills Community Outreach seeks donations of food, school supplies

| Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 4:03 p.m.

As supplies run low in the summer, North Hills Community Outreach is seeking donations of nonperishable, nonexpired food, as well as fresh garden produce, for its three food pantries.

Donations tend to drop off during the summer because schools and civic groups that typically hold donation drives are on break, said Jennifer Kissel director of communications for the organization, but the need for donations never stops.

The three food pantries serve nearly 700 needy families as a supplement to their monthly groceries, she said.

“People tend to think of food donations more around Thanksgiving time, which we can certainly always use, but they don't tend of think of it in the summer,” she said.

Along with the typical canned goods and boxed foods, North Hills Community Outreach is accepting fresh vegetables and fruits from people's summer gardens. Kissel said the produce does not need to be washed or packaged in a specific way, just dropped off.

“A lot of people have extra produce,” Kissel said. “They can bring it in a box straight out of the garden, and we'll take care of it.”

The organization also is seeking new backpacks and back-to-school supplies for the families that use the food pantries. Last year, it distributed 1,240 backpacks to children in need. Larger backpacks for teenagers are a particular need.

Kissel said families make an appointment, and the children get to shop around for their favorite backpack and school supplies. It's an exciting time for the students, she said.

“They're very excited when they leave with their new backpacks, and that's part of the reason we insist on new donations,” she said. “If you remember your first day of school … the new backpack just sort of helps make the transition into the school year a lot smoother.”

People donating school supplies are asked to deliver them by July 31, so the items can be sorted and the families can take time to shop around before the school year begins.

In addition to the regular school supplies, Kissel said, the organization is seeking gently used Texas Instruments scientific calculators for teenagers to use in their advanced high school math classes. While schools typically provide scientific graphing calculators for use during the school day, most can't be taken home at night for homework, and new ones can cost more than $100.

“If there's a kid who just graduated high school or college and won't be using it anymore, we'll happily accept scientific calculators,” Kissel said.

All donations can be dropped off at any of the organization's offices from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The main office is at 1975 Ferguson Road.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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