FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — With virtual learning in full swing, access to school supplies is more important than in previous years. ICNA Relief is helping to lower the education gap by collecting school supplies to donate to families in need.
Ammar Ahmed with ICNA Relief said they donated more than 1,000 backpacks to students in Northern Virginia last weekend. They are planning another school supply drive for families in Prince William County in the coming days.
"In the areas and the communities we serve, we know the power of education. We know that the right teacher can really put a student on the right track to maximize their potential and keep the potential growing. We just want to make it as easy as possible for those teachers to do their jobs and for students to achieve the learning outcomes they want to achieve," said Ahmed.
With students learning online this year, students can't rely on items they used to be able to find in the classroom.
"We want students to learn in a virtual environment, we know we can’t re-create the same results but we want to try our very best. We don’t want there to be a learning gap," said Ahmed.
The team at ICNA Relief has been collecting staple items like notebooks, pens and paper and filling the backpacks with everything students would need to learn from home.
"These are items students used to be able to find in the classroom, now they will be able to find it at home," said Ahmed.
Ahmed said they have been donating the backpacks to students in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. For the first time this year, families stayed in their cars when picking up their school supplies in order to social distance.
"Even in the middle of the pandemic, there’s been a huge response of people wanting to give," said Ahmed.
"It is incredible to see different walks of life, different faith-based community is coming together and just an outpouring response of love and warmth and a sense to help.
In the past, families needed to qualify in order to receive a backpack but because things are uncertain with COVID-19, Ahmed said they are not turning anyone away.
Ahmed said while the need is significantly greater than years past, they've also seen an incredible amount of donations coming in from people and businesses around the community.
"I think the community around us understands the difficulty is coming up in the school year and they want to help in any way shape or form that they can," said Ahmed.
To contact ICNA Relief or help donate, you can contact them here.