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Domtar Helps Equip Students for Remote Learning

Categories: Giving Back
Office Depot employees ready to hand out school supplies for remote learning

Due to the global pandemic, most students in the United States are starting school online or following a hybrid model that combines remote learning with in-person classes. The move to remote learning means that, in addition to the typical school supplies students need to be prepared and organized in a classroom, many children will need extra supplies to succeed at home.

According to Classroom Central, a nonprofit organization that equips students for education, remote learning has actually increased the need for supplies. More families are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic, and because they are not in the classroom each day, students have fewer opportunities to share supplies.

“Students will need the same supplies at home that they need at school in order to take notes and complete their coursework, including writing utensils, paper and composition books,” says Karen Calder, executive director of Classroom Central. “Students will still have extracurricular activities like remote art class, so materials like crayons, markers and colored pencils will be required for schoolwork. Additionally, organizational supplies like pocket folders and backpacks will be vital for students alternating between in-person and remote learning — especially those students who don’t have their own dedicated space to learn at home.”

Domtar’s Powerful Pages Program

As part of our Powerful Pages initiative, which promotes education and literacy in our communities, we are helping Classroom Central and Office Depot equip students with the supplies they need to be successful with remote learning.

This year, Classroom Central partnered with WSOC-TV to hold the 9 School Tools supply drive, the Carolinas’ largest virtual and in-person school supply drive serving nearly 200 schools across six school districts in the Charlotte region. Together, they hope to collect and distribute 1,000,000 of the nine most-used school supplies:

  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Colored markers
  • Notebooks
  • Pocket folders
  • Filler paper
  • Composition books
  • Dry erase markers
  • Highlighters

We are conducting a virtual school supply drive to raise money for this project. We also held an in-person school supply drive at our executive headquarters in Fort Mill, South Carolina, where our colleagues could donate supplies.

We have reached nearly half of our goal in financial contributions and have received hundreds of school supply donations from our in-person school supply drive. Please visit our virtual supply drive to contribute to our efforts.

In addition to our partnership with Classroom Central, we have partnered with Office Depot to support the company’s back-to-school philanthropic program, Start Proud!®, for the third consecutive year. Start Proud!® helps to foster brighter beginnings for deserving schools nationwide, and gives students, parents and teachers the supplies they need to start the year feeling confident, prepared and proud.

This year, we helped supply 9,000 backpacks for students in nine cities, including Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Orlando, Florida; Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; and Dallas, Texas. Each backpack contained an assortment of school supplies, and with Domtar’s support , an activity sheet printed on Domtar paper and one $20 Office Depot® OfficeMax® gift card, for parents to purchase additional school supplies for their child throughout the year.

Katie Varrassi, Domtar sales manager, hands out free backpacks to families during Office Depot’s StartProud!® celebration at Hidden Valley Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Given the current social distancing constraints, the Office Depot and Domtar Paper teams were not able to hold the program’s traditional large-scale celebratory assemblies. Instead, the teams thoughtfully and creatively pivoted, in collaboration with the Start Proud!® schools and school districts, to coordinate car line pick-up events.

“I have loved attending these events each year,” says Katie Varrassi, Domtar sales manager. “Although this year’s event was very different, I’m glad we were able to continue to provide children with the supplies needed to set them up for success and future achievement. To have organizations like Office Depot and Domtar, as well as nonprofits like Classroom Central, and the many educators and volunteers all partner together — it makes one feel like anything is possible when connected in community.”

Learn more about our community investment programs and the other school supply programs that we support to distribute classroom essentials to students and teachers: