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Back 2 School adapts to continue helping families in need

Kaitlyn Riley

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It will be an unusual school year in 2020, but support for families in need will not stop.

Last year, the Coulee Region’s Back 2 School campaign helped more than 1,000 students receive supplies they need. Although La Crosse students will start back online, Salvation Army Development Director Christina Knudson said they are trying to maintain normalcy.

“They still need markers and notebooks, and pencils and crayons,” Knudson said. “They say the costs are going up because now you have the internet and headphones for the laptops and iPads. That’s why our Back 2 School efforts for supplies and monetary donations are still going.”

Knudson said the number of families in need could be greater in 2020 with increased unemployment in the pandemic.

There are some changes this year. Families can still apply for school supplies. Those applications are accepted until Aug. 8. There will not be events for pick-up at the Boys and Girls Club locations or La Crosse Center. Organizers are working with the La Crosse School District to create a distribution plan.

For those who wish to donate, there is a gofundme and an online page for monetary donations. Backpacks and school supplies can be dropped off at the Catholic Charities downtown office (413 3rd Street South) Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

“There are so many different ways you can help,” Knudson said. “Our community is so giving, and we appreciate any help for our families here locally.”

Knudson added Walmart is partnering with an online registry that can ship school supplies to the Salvation Army. Walmart is also hosting a Stuff the Bus event Aug. 7-9.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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