What is Project Ready to Learn?

The Contra Costa Times' annual backpack and school supplies drive, Project Ready to Learn, supplies new backpacks and school supplies to impoverished kids throughout the East Bay. It's a project that would be impossible without the generous support of our many readers and members of the Junior League of the Oakland/East Bay, National Charity League and two wonderful social services volunteer groups, VESTIA and Tools 4 School. For the second year, our colleagues at other East Bay BANG newspapers are taking part in the project as well.

Contra Costa donations go to the Volunteer and Emergency Services Team in Action or VESTIA, the volunteer arm of Contra Costa's social services department, for distribution to needy children throughout the county.

Alameda County donations go to Tools 4 School, an umbrella project joining the forces of 15 agencies who work with children in poverty. School supplies will be donated throughout Alameda county.

When is it?

This year's drive runs Tuesday July 29 through Friday Aug. 15.

What kinds of school supplies are needed?

A list of needed school supplies is below, but please note that all school supply items must be new. We cannot accept old or even "gently used" supplies, so please do not open packages, sharpen pencils, etc. Also, backpacks with prints and most colors are fine, but please avoid solid colored backpacks in bright red or blue.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BACKPACKS

* age-appropriate backpack (but not bright red or blue)

* pencils

* a big eraser

* crayons

* set of markers

* ruler

* safety scissors

* glue sticks

* several wide-ruled notebooks or a thick pack of loose-leaf lined paper

* three-to five colored folders

* Also nice to have: a pencil box, red marking pens, etc.

MIDDLE SCHOOL BACKPACKS

* age appropriate backpack (but not bright red or blue)

* pencils

* pens

* set of markers

* set of colored pencils

* glue sticks

* erasers

* several college-ruled notebooks or thick pack of loose-leaf lined paper

* protractor or compass

* simple calculator

* Also nice to have: homework planner, dictionary, extra erasers, erasable pens, highlighters, red marking pens, tape, index cards, etc.

HIGH SCHOOL BACKPACKS

* Age appropriate backpack (but not bright red or blue)

* lots of pencils

* lots of pens

* erasers

* large set of colored markers

* large set of colored pencils

* several college ruled notebooks and/or thick pack of loose-leaf lined paper

* several folders or organizer binder

* calculator, preferably scientific

* Also nice to have: homework planner, dictionary or thesaurus, highlighters, red marking pens, tape, index cards

Are donations tax-deductible?

Yes. Both VESTIA and Tools 4 School are non-profit agencies. If you need a receipt, request one when you drop off supplies.

May I donate cash?

Absolutely! Contra Costa residents may write a check to VESTIA. Include the words "Project Ready to Learn" in the memo line. Mail to VESTIA, 30 Muir Road in Martinez, CA 94553. For details, call 925-335-2190.

Alameda County Residents may write a check to Alameda County Child Abuse Prevention Council. Include the words "Tools 4 School" or "Project Ready to Learn" in the memo line. Mail to Alameda County Child Abuse Prevention Council, Attn: Janette Bormann, 24100 Amador Way, Hayward, CA 94544. For details, call 510-782-2947.

Where can I drop off supplies?

Supplies dropped off at Alameda County locations are distributed to needy children throughout that county. Contributions from Contra Costa County go to children in that county. Below is a list of drop-off sites:

1. Contra Costa Times: 2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek, 925-935-2525, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

2. East County Times: 1700 Cavallo Rd., Antioch, 925-757-2525, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

3. Brentwood Lending Group: 201 Sandcreek Rd., Suite G, Brentwood, 925-240-9995

4. West County Times: 4301 Lakeside Drive, Richmond, 510-758-8400, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

5. The Storyteller: 30 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, 925-284-3480, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

6. Alameda Journal: 1516 Oak St., Alameda, 510-748-1666, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

7. Valley Times: 127 Spring St., Pleasanton, 925-847-2124, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

8. KaiPerm Diablo Federal Credit Union: 1600 S. Main (facing the patio), Walnut Creek, 925-331-1010, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

9. Patelco Credit Union: 1790 No. Broadway, Walnut Creek, 925-331-1010, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

10. Patelco Credit Union: 1390 Willow Pass Road (in the Corporate Center), Concord, 925-331-1010, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

11. Diablo Valley Federal Credit Union: 1051-A Detroit Ave., Concord, 925-331-1010, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

12. CD Federal Credit Union: 1855 Second Street, Concord, 925-331-1010, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

13. Shell Western States Credit Union: 1700 Pacheco Blvd, Martinez, 925-331-1010, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

14. Dow Credit Union: 4041 Lone Tree Way, Suite 100, Antioch, 925-331-1010, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

15. Antioch Community Federal Credit Union: 301 "G" Street, Antioch, 925-331-1010, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday

16. Western Healthcare FCU (in the Clayton Valley Shopping Center): 5442 Ygnacio Valley Rd. Suite 90, Concord, 925-331-1010, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday

17. Rakestraw Books: 409 Railroad Avenue, Danville, 925-837-7337, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday

18. CarlaPie Baby & Kids: 109F Town and Country Drive, Danville, 925-552-9946. 10a.m.-p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday

19. Patelco Credi Union - Brentwood: 506 Lone Tree Way, Suite T-11-, Brentwood, 925-331-1010, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

20. West County Times: 4301 Lakeside Drive, Richmond, 510-758-8400, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

21. Alameda Journal: 1516 Oak St., Alameda, 510-748-1666, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday

ANG Newspaper sites:

22. Oakland Tribune: 7677 Oakport St., suite 950, Oakland

23. The Argus: 39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont

24. Daily Review: 22533 Foothill Blvd., Hayward

25. Tri Valley Herald: 127 Spring St., Pleasanton, 925-847-2124, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

26. Tools 4 School sites:

* Lincoln Child Center: 4368 Lincoln Ave., Oakland

* Lincoln Kinship Support Services Program: 27287 Patrick Ave., Hayward

27. Walnut Creek Sports & Fitness: 1908 Olympic Boulevard, Walnut Creek, 925-932-6400, Monday-Thursday, 4:50 a.m.- 11 p.m.; Friday, 4:50 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 5:50 a.m.-8 p.m.

How can my child get a free backpack?

Our partner service organizations, VESTIA and Tools 4 School, handle backpack distribution.

If you live in Contra Costa County, contact VESTIA at 925-335-2190

If you live in Alameda County, contact Tools 4 School:

c/o: Janette Bormann

24100 Amador Way, Hayward

510-780-8989 or www.actools4school.org.

More questions?

Contact Tanya Rose, Times reporter, at 925-943-8345 or trose@bayareanewsgroup.com; or Alyssa Phillips, calendar/events editor, at 925-943-8142 or aphillips@bayareanewsgroup.com.