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Rochester Hills Mom Behind Effort to Buy Backpacks for Kids in Need

The ReadySetGo program will provide Rochester-area kindergarten students with their first backpacks filled with all the school supplies they need to start off their first year.

Rochester Hills mom Alhan Miller remembers the joy of shopping for school supplies as a child. Now, all grown up and the mom of a 5-year-old who will be starting kindergarten in the fall, Miller is looking forward to sharing this excitement with her son.

But along with the excitement comes her concerns about the children who aren't so fortunate.

Miller, working in conjunction with the , has founded ReadySetGo, a program that will raise money to buy backpacks and school supplies for students in need who are starting kindergarten in the fall.

It's her way to give back.

"Unfortunately, there are children in the Rochester area who will not get to experience the joy of school shopping because their families are struggling financially in this tough economy," Miller said.

"As a community built on helping our neighbors, we have a responsibility to provide our youngest residents a fair chance at success in school and life."

It started with an idea

When Alhan, an advertising account director, took her son, Landon, to kindergarten roundup this spring, she learned something that spurred her into action.

The school leaders were explaining how school lunches work and mentioned the free and reduced-price lunch program for low-income students. That night, Miller couldn't get that idea out of her mind. 

"I was talking with my husband about it and started wondering just how many students qualified for free and reduced-price lunch in our community," she said. 

And that's where the idea grew.

Miller started thinking about all of the other school-related things these families may not be able to buy.

"Buying a backpack and buying school supplies — that's supposed to be such an important time in a child's life," Miller said. 

Miller connected with the Rochester Community Schools Foundation to launch the program. 

"She's just one of those moms who wanted to do something to reach out and help in our community," said Debbi Hartman, community relations manager for Rochester Community Schools.

Hartman connected Miller with the district's purchasing department, who was able to line up the purchase, in bulk, of school supplies and backpacks. They estimate each backpack full of school supplies will cost about $15. They are hoping to purchase 200 backpacks. 

Miller is still working out the details of how the backpacks will be packaged and distributed. Her goal is to get Landon involved in the process.

"This is a real opportunity to make a difference," she said. "We are truly touching kids in the community — a small idea can become a very big idea."

How to help

You can contribute to ReadySetGo through the Rochester Community Schools Foundation. A tax-deductible donation of $15 will fund one backpack full of school supplies. Please make your check payable to “Rochester Community Schools Foundation” and mail to 501 West University Drive, Rochester, MI 48307 or call 248-726- 3139 to make a credit card donation.

Backpacks will be delivered to qualifying students before the school year begins.

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