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United Way school backpack push extended

Volunteers package and sort backpacks Tuesday, July 31, 2018, while gearing up for the 20th annual United Way School Supply Drive distribution at the Fargodome, which will happen 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, August 4, and 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 7. David Samson / The Forum1 / 2
Adam Massie (left) from Moorhead and Brook Spaulding from Dilworth, Minn., count backpacks Tuesday, July 31, 2018, while gearing up for the 20th annual United Way School Supply Drive distribution at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

UPDATE: United Way of Cass-Clay announced Aug. 1 that it has achieved its 2018 goal of impacting 6,000 local students for the 20th Annual United Way School Supply Drive.

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FARGO — The United Way of Cass-Clay is close to reaching its goal of helping 6,000 area students — but it's asking for a little more time to get to its target.

Thanks to community efforts, thousands of K-12 kids will be heading back to school this fall with a new backpack full of school supplies.

The organization has almost met its 6,000-backpacks goal, having collected 5,850 as of noon Tuesday, July 31, according to Kristina Hein, United Way of Cass-Clay's marketing and brand management director. The initial donation deadline was Friday, July 27, but that was extended, and the current push will now accept donations until distribution, she said.

Hein said she's confident the community will close the gap and the goal will be reached and even exceeded by then.

Two distribution events will be held for families in need of school supplies from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, and 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Fargodome.

Volunteering for the United Way's School Supply Drive has become a family affair for the Spaulding clan from Dilworth, Minn.

Brook Spaulding, her husband and their three children all take part in the annual drive.The family of five serves as a makeshift assembly line, doing everything from stuffing backpacks to distributing them.

"I love kids and I want to see that every kid gets to start the school year well prepared," said Spaulding, who's been a school supply drive volunteer for a decade. "To know that these kids are starting school ready to go and don't have to worry about missing the notebook or highlighter they need is amazing. It's important for kids to have these things to be successful."

Spaulding said that each year, distribution day is her favorite.

"To sit at the table and help the kids find the backpack they want, then hand it to them, it's so exciting seeing how they light up," she said. "You can also see it in the parent's faces. They're just so thankful."

When Spaulding's son Zayn was born six years ago, he became the youngest-ever volunteer for the drive at 1 month old, she said.

Her daughter, Delaney Spaulding shares her mom's passion for the cause. Last year, the 9-year-old held a lemonade stand and raised about $300 for the drive.

Because it's a community effort, several area companies have stepped up and made sizable donations to the 20th annual drive. Sammons Financial Group, First International Bank & Trust and Gate City Bank each contributed $2,500 to the cause, Hein said. Scheels All Sports also donated 472 backpacks.

Supplies are available for students attending K-12 schools in Cass or Clay Counties during the 2018-19 school year.

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