‘We are one community’: Record-setting school supply drive helps students and families in need

September 2, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Approximately a 3-minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Michigan Medicine team members donated 458 backpacks and a record 231 cases of supplies during the recent school supply drive.
  • It was the first drive held at Michigan Medicine since 2019, though prior to the pandemic, it was a yearly tradition dating back to 2012.
  • Five community-based organizations will benefit from the organization’s generosity.

Michigan Medicine came together in a big way over the past month, collecting school supplies and other necessities to help local area students learn and grow over the next year.

This year’s school supply drive brought in 458 backpacks, along with a record 231 cases of supplies — from notebooks to markers, crayons, hygiene products and more.

“As teamwork and caring are two of our core values, our teams stepped up again in an enormous way to help those around us,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer for U-M Health. “At the end of the day, I believe we are one community that supports each other, with an aim to build bridges to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed.”

A generous return

This year’s school supply drive was the first held at Michigan Medicine since 2019, though prior to the pandemic it was a yearly tradition dating back to 2012. Since its inception, Michigan Medicine has donated 1,076 cases of school supplies and personal items in addition to 2,996 backpacks.

“Having the necessary supplies is one of the keys to helping students succeed and thrive,” Denton said. “That’s why this drive is so important — it creates a sense of belonging and equity among all of our community members, key ingredients to enable and empower our youth.”

This year’s countywide campaign aligns with the goals of five community-based organizations who will distribute the donated supplies: The Education Project for Homeless Youth, Ozone House, Community Action Network, Faith in Action and House by the Side of the Road.

In a message from Community Action Network leaders, Michigan Medicine was lauded for its efforts: “Thank you for helping to create brighter futures for children, youth, and families in under-resourced Washtenaw County neighborhoods,” the CAN team said. “Your donation of school supplies, hygiene products and undergarments helped make our back-to-school drive a huge success!”

Coming together

Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of this year’s drive was seeing team members from across Michigan Medicine jump in to make a positive difference.

At various locations — from off-site buildings to the main medical campus and all points in between — teams collected supplies in boxes and dropped them off at the North Campus Research Complex.

“Not only did this drive demonstrate that we are all one community at Michigan Medicine, but it showed that Michigan Medicine is an important part of a single Washtenaw County community,” Denton said. “We are stewards of health here, which includes chipping away at social determinants of health and a sharp focus on improving wellness for the recipients and our Michigan Medicine team members. 

“I continue to be so proud of our teams for carrying on this legacy of giving and everything we are doing to inspire hope and remove economic barriers to student, family and community success.”