Citizens Bank to Collect School Supplies for Needy Children

The school drive begins Monday, July 23.

To help children go back to school with the supplies they need to learn, Citizens Bank will launch its Gear for Grades initiative on Monday, July 23. 

Customers and the public are invited to donate new items such as pencils, folders, glue, notebooks and other school supplies at any Citizens Bank branch in Rhode Island from July 23 through Aug. 10.

 here to find Portsmouth's branch. 

This year’s Gear for Grades program is in partnership with Back to School of Rhode Island, Coast to Coast Promotional Products and 92 PRO FM. 

In addition to collecting school supplies in its branches, the Citizens Bank Foundation is making a $30,000 grant to Back to School of Rhode Island to help support the purchase of 14,000 logo-free backpacks for local children in need. 

“Gear for Grades ensures that local children have a new backpack filled with notebooks, pencils and pens so they are ready for a successful and productive year of learning,” said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “Every child deserves the excitement of returning to school with new supplies and knowing that people care about their future. We thank our customers and the public in advance for supporting the Gear for Grades program.”

According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average American family spent $603 in 2011 on back-to-school expenses. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden. The supplies most in need include child-safe scissors, pencils, pens, erasers, pocket folders, spiral notebooks, crayons, washable markers, rulers, glue sticks, colored pencils, pencil boxes and index cards.

“The Gear for Grades initiative will go a long way toward getting the school year off to a great start for thousands of local children,” said Jorge Cardenas, President of Back to School of Rhode Island. “Citizens Bank is fulfilling a need that most people take for granted. The new backpacks and school supplies will make the return to the classroom a more exciting time for many children.”

92 PRO FM will support Gear for Grades with public services announcements to encourage listeners to donate supplies. It will also host a live broadcast on August 4 at the Citizens Bank North Providence branch located at 1798 Smith Street, where the public can drop off school supplies. 

“92 PRO FM is pleased to partner with Citizens Bank and Back to School of RI for Gear for Grades,” said Deb Ruggiero, Director of Business Development, 92 PRO FM. “This program is a great fit for us and we encourage our listeners to donate new school supplies at their local Citizens Bank branch. It will put a smile on so many children in need.” 

To culminate the program, hundreds of volunteers from Citizens Bank and other local corporations will stuff 14,000 backpacks with school supplies at a Backpack-a-thon on July 28 at the Providence School Department Central Supply Warehouse, 21 Perkins Street, Providence.

The filled backpacks will be distributed directly to children who need them most on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 11 sites throughout Rhode Island. To find the location near you, visit http://www.btscri.org/events.

This year, more than 37,000 backpacks will be distributed to children across RBS Citizens Financial Group’s footprint where it operates as Citizens Bank in the Mid-Atlantic and New England and Charter One in the Midwest. Since 2003, Gear for Grades has provided more than 200,000 children with new backpacks and school supplies.


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