By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s that time of year again when Colorado students are preparing to head back to school. For some, the excitement of that first day can come with a little bit of worry. Some have concerns they may not have all of the supplies they need.

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It is a feeling that can be especially true for Colorado’s refugee community.

(credit: CBS)

Kelli Woodard with ECDC African Community Center of Denver says they are here to help.

“These kids want to walk into school proud of their new belongings, and for so many kids this is the first time they have ever had a backpack,” she said.

With the first day of school just around the corner, Woodard says the organization could use some help stocking their shelves. She was collecting donations on Tuesday, even making house calls to those who could not deliver the supplies to their office.

20-year-old James Lwasha had a stack of notebooks, binders, and new backpacks ready for pickup.

“I saw a post on Facebook that they need school supplies for the kids and I realized (several years ago) I was one of the kids that really needed supplies,” he said.

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Lwasha came to the United States from the Congo and quickly realized he would need help getting ready for school. Now a full-time college student, he knows firsthand the impact the donations can have.

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“It will always make a difference, no matter what it is. One pencil, one eraser, notebook, backpack … it always makes a difference,” he said.

The center says they are in need of basic school supplies, everything from crayons for the little ones to graphing calculators that are mandatory for some high school students.

“It really gives them the tools necessary from the beginning, whether they or 6 years old or 17 years old they still need a fresh start,” Woodard said.

Kelli Woodard (credit: CBS)

While Lwasha says he does not have much to give, he hopes what he does have will help someone else get to where he is today.

“It’s time for me to do the same to other people who really need it.

If you would like to help the center, below is a list of the supplies needed and where to donate.

Highest priority

  • Backpacks
  • Notebooks
  • Graphing calculators

Other needs

  • Pens/pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Erasers
  • Folders
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Glue sticks
  • Washable markers
  • Blunt-tipped scissors

ECDC’S African Community Center of Denver is located at 925 South Niagara Street Suite 200 in Denver (postal code: 80224).

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Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.