PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 21,000 homeless students between kindergarten and high school were tallied last year by the Oregon Department of Education.

To help try and accommodate children in need, Rose Haven has emerged as the only day shelter and community center serving women, children and gender diverse people in Portland, Oregon.

The nonprofit is hosting its yearly school supply drive and this year backpacks are in high demand. About 300 children from 83 families are slated to be assisted in 2021.

Rose Haven’s executive director said donations are essential to combating disparities in the community.

“It’s really making sure that the guests that we serve are going into the new school year feeling good about the school year on a positive note,” said Kate O’Brien. “[It’s about] promoting dignity with our children so that they have the same things that other kids are walking into the classroom with.”

The Back to School Drive is happening on August 18 and 19 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Ways to donate:

  • Donate in person at 627 Northwest 18th Avenue 1-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
  • Purchase supplies online at this registry or by visiting the Back to School Drive Amazon wishlist or RightGift

Record-breaking school shopping

This drive comes as back-to-school shopping is poised to break multiple sales records, according to the National Retail Federation.

In its latest release, the NRF reported families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend $848.90 this year — which is about $59 more than last year. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $37.1 billion up from $33.9 billion last year and an all-time high in the survey’s history.

The trend includes higher education as well. College students and their families plan to spend an average of about $1,200 — up more than $140. Total spending on back-to-college is expected to reach $71 billion up from $67.7 billion in 2020. The increase has been fueled by more spending on electronics and dorm furnishings, according to officials.