Ahwatukee Foothills is an affluent area by reputation, but it still has students in need.
And to make sure those students in Kyrene schools can go back to class with quality supplies, the Kyrene Foundation is starting its annual backpack and school supply drive.
Kyrene School District has identified more than 430 homeless students in its borders, with more than 200 of those in Ahwatukee, said Lori Walk, a district employee and volunteer with the Kyrene Foundation.
To help those neighbors, the non-profit Kyrene Foundation is collecting new backpacks, three-ring binders, loose-leaf paper, pencils, colored pencils or crayons and four colored pocket folders per student.
"All of us remember what it was like to have a new pair of shoes or the new pencils we were able to bring in or the smell of new school supplies," Walk said. "It makes them feel connected, and it gives them the tools they need to be ready for school."
The backpacks are the big push right now, but the Kyrene Foundation can always use hygiene supplies, too, Walk said.
"Parents cannot buy soap or deodorant with food stamps," Walk said.
Homelessness can mean many things, and not necessarily a family living in a car or alley, said district spokeswoman Nancy Dudenhoefer.
Many homeless students in Ahwatukee may be living in motels or bunking with another family, forced into that situation because of a layoff or foreclosure, Dudenhoefer said.
"Homelessness has a lot of faces. It's not necessarily what people picture it as," Dudenhoefer said.
Families may be embarrassed or stressed by their situation, so many hide it from friends. School supply drives help students maintain some feeling of normalcy about going to no matter their situation, Walk said.
"By connecting their donations to the Kyrene Foundation, (Ahwatukee residents are) making sure kids who maybe live across the street or are right in their backyard, who they may not even know are going through a hard time are helped," Walk said.
Donations of any size are appreciated, from a single backpack to a bulk supply of school supplies. To best accommodate donators, Walk asked anyone interested in donating to the drive call her at (480) 783-4070 to arrange a drop-off time and place. The foundation is able to pick up large donations.