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My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

My Town: Four fun ways to prepare for heading back to school

The start of the 2014-15 schools year is just around the corner.

As a parent, don’t let the start of a new school year catch you off guard- start preparing your students now to hit the books this fall.  While some activities, like waking up early, may be met with less enthusiasm, back-to-school preparation can be fun. 

Educators at Michigan Connections Academy have developed four fun, yet educational, activities parents and students can do together to help prepare for a successful start to the new school year— and the best part is the students won’t even realize they are learning!

My Town GR North: Volunteers needed for back-to-school drive

My Town GR North: Volunteers needed for back-to-school drive

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Volunteers are needed to help stuff backpacks for hundreds of children in need.

D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s  has been collecting backpacks and school supplies at its Leonard Street and Knapp Street locations since Aug. 11. This is the eighth year for the drive, which provides classroom necessities for more than 500 children who are recovering from abuse and neglect, or live in poverty.  Approximately 23 percent of children in Kent County live below the poverty line.

People interested in volunteering to fill backpacks on Aug. 15 should contact Katie Wybenga at (616) 361-4118 or kwybenga@dabsj.org.

My Town GR North: Back-to-school donation drive begins

My Town GR North: Back-to-school donation drive begins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Back-to-school shopping season is here, but hundreds of West Michigan children can't afford a trip down store aisles.

That's why D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s is holding its Backpack & School Supply Drive now through Aug. 15.  This is the eighth year for the event, which provides classroom necessities for more than 500 children who are recovering from abuse and neglect, or live in poverty.  Approximately 23 percent of children in Kent County live below the poverty line.

The donation wish list includes:

Cooking with Kal: Roll out the zucchini bread

Cooking with Kal: Roll out the zucchini bread

This is the season- zucchini is growing wild and people with gardens can barely keep up with the harvest of this vegetable.

I got a large one last week from Denise, here at work, and could not use all of it right away, but I did process and freeze it for future use. I have never done that before but thought, what have I got to lose? Hopefully, when the snow is flying and I feel like baking zucchini-apple bread, I will be all set.

In the meantime, the following recipe is wonderful. I made it recently but did not have any apples in the house, so I substituted with an approximate amount of crushed pineapple. I did not have any walnuts like I usually use, so I used toasted and salted sunflower seeds. I also added a bag of dried cranberries. It's easy to make changes in recipes, especially if you have made it before. I hope people will give this recipe a try; it is good and it makes three loaves, so you will have plenty to share or freeze. Enjoy!

My Town: Back-to-school donations needed for Grand Rapids area children

My Town: Back-to-school donations needed for Grand Rapids area children

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—As the back-to-school shopping season nears, a Grand Rapids organization is encouraging community members to pick up an extra backpack or set of supplies for children in need.

D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s is in need of donations for its Backpack & School Supply Drive.  This is the eighth year for the event, which provides classroom necessities for more than 500 children who are recovering from abuse and neglect, or live in poverty.  Approximately 23 percent of children in Kent County live below the poverty line.

D.A. Blodgett- St. John’s will be accepting donations Aug. 11 through Aug. 15 at its Leonard Street and Knapp Street locations.  The donation wish list includes:

My Town: GVSU and DHS awarded research grant for family support program

My Town: GVSU and DHS awarded research grant for family support program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The Michigan Department of Human Services is teaming up with Grand Valley State University to measure the success of a family support program in more than 150 Michigan schools.

A three-year, $1.05 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will go toward measuring the impact of the Pathways to Potential program in Michigan.  The program places DHS case workers in schools to make it easier for children and their families to address barriers to their safety, health, education, attendance and self-sufficiency.

“We know that many children struggle in school because of outside of school challenges affecting both students and their families,” Gov. Snyder said. “The goal of Pathways to Potential is to reduce or eliminate those challenges by conveniently connecting families to the services they need to help everyone become more successful.”

My Town: Our Kitchen Table improves lives through the power of plants

My Town: Our Kitchen Table improves lives through the power of plants

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— A leafy green initiative to improve the lives of Grand Rapids families is leading to a plant free-for-all this weekend.

On Saturday, July 26, Our Kitchen Table will be giving away a variety of vegetable plants to those who rely on the United Church Outreach Ministry and the Asian West Michigan Association for support.  Kale, collars, broccoli, cauliflower, Bok Choy, chard, lettuce, cabbage and Brussel sprouts will all be available on a first come, first serve basis. The plant pick-up will take place at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, 851 Madison Ave. SE from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.