Salem Health collects school supplies for needy families

In 2016, members of the Salem Health Medical Group decided they wanted to make a difference for Salem area students in need. Their effort turned into a backpack and school supply drive.

The group collected 380 brand-new backpacks filled with grade-appropriate school supplies, as recommended by the Salem-Keizer School District. The donations went to schools throughout the district.

Fast forward to today: Organizers strived to help more kids this school year, including students in the Woodburn School District.

“The challenge was, ‘Let’s get to 800 backpacks,’” said Ralph Yates, DO, Salem Health chief medical officer. “Return to the community what it gives us tenfold every day.”

“People are drawn into this profession out of a desire to give of themselves and answer a higher calling,” said Dr. Yates. “It’s more than just a job. This campaign and others that we do within the medical group give our staff an opportunity to express that inner desire.”

Organizers were blown away by the wave of donations — more than 1,800 backpacks filled with school supplies.

“Our team is very committed to the community,” said Bahaa Wanly, Salem Health chief operating officer and vice president of the Salem Health Medical Group. “We’re excited to see our future generation succeed because of this.”

Grant Community School in Salem was one of the many schools that received donated backpacks and supplies.

“The need is pretty great,” said Anahi Garibay, Grant Community School office manager. “With cost increases and the flux in the economy, it is becoming a little difficult for parents to secure supplies for their children. Having Salem Health as a partner and having them contribute to us is very helpful.”

Salem Health leaders now have even bigger plans for 2018.

“We want the entire health system to participate,” said Wanly. “Let’s double that!”

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