Manistee mom organizes backpack, collects school supplies


MANISTEE — Danyal Blakeslee’s two sons love to shop for back to school — buying new clothes and school supplies so they can do their best when the first day of school arrives.

Blakeslee, of course, wants her boys to have everything they need to succeed in their school year, but she also wants the same for all the kids in the community. In an attempt to achieve this, Blakeslee started a backpack and school supply drive with her sons.

“We kind of had a conversation about how some kids might not get things as good as they do, and wouldn’t it be nice if the community could really come together and provide supplies of that quality to n anyone, even if they can’t afford it,” she said. “We kind of thought about it a bit and decided that a supply drive would be great. I know there are a few other organizations doing similar things in the community, and we just thought having access to even more kids in our county would be awesome.”

Blakeslee will be collecting supplies and financial support through August 27 and distributing the items August 29. Backpacks and supplies will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Street Beach under a blue canopy tent. Items will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and no registration or income verification will be required.

“It’s for students in the Manistee area, so it doesn’t have to be specifically (public school students in the Manistee area). It could be Onekama, or anyone in the area of Manistee,” Blakeslee said. “We’d like to help whoever we can. We’re struggling for support right now. I’m going to invest a lot of money in this, but I really need the help of the community to achieve this.”

Those wishing to donate supplies can contact Blakeslee by emailing or calling 231-923-2518. Monetary donations can be made via PayPal @dananyalblakeslee.

Blakeslee said plans are underway to set up drop boxes in the community.

“I will be providing a drop box at the Manistee County Fair near the grandstands for anyone who wishes to bring any supplies they can think of. We have a list on our flyers to sort of indicate what we are looking for, but there will be a drop box there,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll put some more drop boxes in the next two weeks. My family is currently down with COVID so we’re sort of isolated but we’re at the end of that hopefully so soon we can get out and have more physical locations to drop things off.”

Blakeslee said she hopes the campaign will not only benefit local students in the area, but also teach her sons not to take what they have for granted.

“It’s really important that my boys grow up to understand that not everyone has the things they do, that they are privileged to have the things they have. It’s not just their right to have all these great things – they’re lucky to have that,” she said. “I didn’t have those things when I was a kid growing up. My mom worked three jobs to give me the best, and I had the same feeling with school supplies when I was a little girl, and my mom did everything to make sure I could get that. There are kids at my boys’ school that I’ve seen have very little, and that’s sad.

Blakeslee said even small donations can add up to make a big difference.

“I’ve had a few donations so far which is great. Like I said, any support we can get is great,” she said. “We really want to have a good show from our community. We really want to give as many kids as possible backpacks and supplies.”

Here are the items you can donate to the backpack and school supply drive:

• Backpack

• Pencils n° 2 sharpened

• Sharpener

• Pencils

• Washable markers

• Glue stick

• The scissors

• Highlighters

• Dry erase markers

• Clorox Wipes

• Hydroalcoholic gel

• Spiral notebooks

• Folders

• Zipped pencil cases

• Boxed tissues

• Rules

• Colouring pencils

• Composition notebooks

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