Playtime: Ways to give back, get help as school year nears

In an email I got from the Foundation for Edmonds School District, I found out that over the last year, the Celebrate Schools 5k grants funded projects benefiting thousands of students, across all grade levels. For example, it went to “afterschool reading and math tutoring, a Festival of Cultures, 5th Grade Law Day, Family Math Madness, school clubs including STEM, gardening, running and board games, and new library books.” Plus, it helps fund the Nourishing Network which provides weekend, holiday, and summer meals and hygiene products for district students in need.

If you’re interested in participating, registration is already open for the 11th Annual Celebrate Schools Monster Mad Dash 5K to be held on Saturday, October 5th at the Alderwood Mall. This event, includes the 5k, which is a family-friendly run/walk, and a costume contest, battle of the bands, plus prizes and giveaways.

Per the Foundation, more than 650 Edmonds School District students experience homelessness at some point during the school year. “In too many cases, students leave school on Friday and do not have another meal until Monday morning when they return to school.” Through their Nourishing Network, In the 2018-2019 school year “Partners and volunteers provided more than 6,300 weekend meals” to those in need of support or experiencing homelessness with 4,000 food items moving through their pantries each week. They also served over a thousand lunches last summer and 83 holiday meals during the ‘18 winter break.

I reached out to Jennifer Amend, community and marketing manager for the foundation, to find out how you receive weekend meals and additional resources or how to volunteer or make donations to the group. Amend told me that families who need support can reach out to their student’s teacher, principal or office manager. For those looking to contribute, the Foundation for Edmonds School District has both donation and volunteer opportunities.

Amend says that there are regular food drives organized by community partners that keep their pantry shelves stocked, and as they are scheduled, many are posted at One example is the Lynnwood’s Fair on 44th on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Nourishing Network van will be at this event, and the group will be accepting food donations throughout the event.

Nourishing Network food pantry items.

There are also opportunities to volunteer at the food pantry, cataloguing and organizing donations or as part of the Tuesday team that assembles the weekend meal kit. Teams are made up of 8 to 10 volunteers and the per Amend, the time commitment is roughly an hour. Groups and individuals interested in volunteering should contact Thame Fuller, Nourishing Network Programs Director, by email at or by phone at 425-431-7092. For further information or to read about the organization, you can visit

Clothes for Kids, another incredible organization serving local students, is officially open for school “shopping.” Per “Any student in Snohomish County or the Northshore School District (Head Start/ECEAP through 12th grade) who requests help is eligible to receive free school clothing from Clothes For Kids twice each school year — one wardrobe in the fall (Aug. 21-Dec. 20, 2019) and one wardrobe in the spring (Jan. 6-March 27, 2020).”

Volunteers at Clothes for Kids.

Clothes for Kids provides students with free school clothes, including socks, underwear, and shoes starting at size 3t all the way through teen sizes, including plus size options. Families of students in Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Marysville, Monroe, Mukilteo, Northshore, Snohomish, Stanwood-Camano or Sultan School Districts can request the Clothes for Kids “Requisition for Clothing form” from their school office and have the school fill out the top portion of the form. Students in Snohomish County outside of the previously listed districts sign up directly at the shop.

Clothes for Kids is open Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 9 a.m. – noon, and Tuesday/Thursday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. They are also open one Saturday per month from 9 a.m. to noon (Sept. 21, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Jan. 25, Feb. 22). No appointment is necessary to receive clothes at Clothes for Kids; families only need to bring their form. If you have additional questions, Clothes for Kids invites you to call them at 425-741-6500 or send an email to

Clothes for Kids is always looking for donations of new and gently-used clothing for children and teens. According to the Wish List on the website, themost urgently needed items are new underwear and socks, sizes 3T through 3X adult, and new or gently-used pants and shoes, especially sweats and athletic pants and shoes. All donations can be left in the green donation bin in the back parking lot of their location on 168th Street Southwest across from Beverly Elementary School.

Clothes for Kids also utilizes volunteers for unloading donations and providing tax receipts. According to their social media, over the summer, volunteers washed, sorted and hung up thousands of lost-and-found items donated from local schools, and — as I found out today — the summer camp my kids go to. If you are interested in donating or volunteering or would like additional information, you can visit

Washington Kids in Transition is holding a Community Packing Party and Food Drive, this Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 1 to 8 p.m. to gather and pack snack bags to pass out to students experiencing homelessness. Before we get to the many ways you can participate in this event, let’s talk about Washington Kids in Transition. They started as a grass-roots effort when a local mom teamed up with the district’s liaison to the students and families experiencing homelessness. We first heard about their efforts to gather snacks for bus drivers to pass out in 2014 and a recent post on shows that they distributed 32,000 snack bags last year.

WKIT says there are three ways to get involved in the Community Packing Party and Food Drive. First, “Swing by and drop off food!” If you can’t join the packing party happening from 6 to 8 p.m., you can stop by the lower parking lot of the church at 828 Caspers St., and volunteers will be outside to take your donations. WKIT is asking for “individually-wrapped nut-free food donations” Examples are granola bars, cheese and crackers, fruit-type snacks (no fruit cups,) and beef sticks.

You can also “come pack snack bags at the packing party.” This family-friendly event is in the large event room on the west side of the building. Volunteers will pack snack bags that are passed out to students to have on the bus ride home from school. The third way WKIT says you can help is to volunteer for both the food drive and/or the packing party! If you are interested or have more questions you can use the Community Packing Party and Food Drive Event page for more information.

The 1st annual Edmonds Oktoberfest put on by Edmonds Rotary will be on Sept. 20-21 and their 5k Fun Run/walk will benefit Washington Kids in Transition this year. This event is another way to support the group, which on top of the snack bags, has established Emergency Closets at schools in the district that request help, providing food, shoes, socks, underwear, toiletries and hygiene products. They also provided hundreds of nights in local hotels for families waiting for transitional housing and utility and rent assistance for families in crisis. Through their “Granted Wishes” program, district Social Workers are able to request financial assistance for items including orthotic shoes, eyeglass exams, field trips, bikes to help students get to work, vaccinations, and dental work. Teachers, school administration, and office managers can connect families with Washington Kids in Transition for Emergency Closet items or additional resources. For more information you can visit

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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