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NH Education Department Holds Backpack Drive for Students In Need / Public News Service

The New Hampshire Department of Education is collecting new backpacks for students whose families may need some help this year getting those back-to-school essentials.

It is the seventh year the Department has run a school backpack drive.

Diana Fenton, chief of the New Hampshire Department of Education Office of Governance, who oversees the program, said in the current economic climate, some families are likely to need assistance who have not in the past.

She noted backpacks collected are sent to school nurses, who then distribute them to students in need.

“We didn’t want anyone to have to stand in line or justify need or fill out a form or be made to feel bad about their circumstances,” Fenton explained. “If you need a new backpack, if you need a little extra help this year, contact the Department of Education, or contact your school nurse.”

According to the latest Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, more than 35% of Granite Staters reported having trouble paying for usual household expenses, up from just over a quarter at the beginning of the year.

Fenton pointed out school nurses have a unique knowledge of what their student body is facing.

“Some of the school nurses, they will keep them throughout the year because kids wear through them,” Fenton observed. “They will kind of reinitiate handing out backpacks in January when kids come back to school after the holidays.”

The drive will run through August 12, and it is not the only opportunity to help New Hampshire kids with back-to-school supplies.

The Boys and Girls Club of Central New Hampshire, for instance, is partnering with other groups for a Pack a Pack campaign, where donors are encouraged to give a backpack containing school supplies such as pencils, colored pencils, erasers, sharpeners, student scissors, glue sticks, notebooks, rulers, pens and folders.

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Iowa is getting more than $9 million to improve its system of care for stroke patients, and to address staffing issues among public-health workers in rural areas.

The money is being donated by the Helmsley Charitable Trust, with $6 million of it going to the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) “Mission: Lifeline Stroke” initiative across the state.

Michelle Scharnott, national vice president for business development and strategic initiatives for the American Heart Association, said the program strives to bring more coordination and efficiency to hospitals, first responders, rehabilitation centers and others when delivering this kind of care.

“It’s figuring out that destination decision and who has what capabilities within the state,” Scharnott outlined. “And assessing that patient immediately to make sure the best decision is made.”

The association, which is also contributing funds, noted stroke is among the leading causes of death in Iowa, with more than 1,400 such cases in 2020.

Helmsley is also granting $3 million in Iowa and two other states for AHA to launch its “HeartCorps” program. It involves adding public-health workers in rural settings, especially in counties ranking among the least healthy.

Officials explained the workers can focus on helping people improve their cardiovascular health. As for streamlining stroke care.

Walter Panzirer, trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said it helps to ensure patients return to their lives and their communities.

“In small towns, if the owner of a lumber mill, for example, or any small-town business, has a life-threatening stroke, that business might not be around anymore,” Panzirer emphasized.

Previously, the philanthropic organization donated nearly $5 million for a similar AHA program in Iowa to address heart-attack care. And it recently provided funding for large trucks to travel to smaller Iowa communities, allowing rural health providers more access to training and equipment for general health care needs.

Disclosure: The American Heart Association of Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Smoking Prevention, and Women’s Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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Higher consumer prices are dominating financial headlines, but an investment trend is making noise. It encourages putting money into causes that provide a social benefit, and this movement gaining steam in Minnesota.

Socially responsible investing is coming off a record year, with nearly $650 billion flowing into these funds.

Casey Shultz – director of investor relations with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation – said in the world of philanthropy, it can mean shifting a portfolio away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

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