Whether you’re moving your teenager into college or trying to coax your new kindergartener onto the bus, back to school season can be tough. For underserved families who simply cannot afford a cart full of pencils, notebooks, and binders, though, there is an additional level of stress.

To demonstrate their commitment to the needs of the community and their patients, the staff of Hall-Mercer Community Mental Health Center of Pennsylvania Hospital decided to organize a Back to School Night for children and families who use their services. Over 30 families attended, and they all received backpacks and other supplies (and pizza!) to help kick off the new school year the right way. The event was made possible through the joint efforts of PAH’s ICN team and a Penn Medicine CAREs grant focused on bringing together the families of Hall-Mercer in social and supportive ways.

“It was a very successful event, and the kids were so happy to have their own supplies.” said Lauren Cliggitt LCSW, lead clinician at Hall-Mercer. “Not only were we able to help our low-income children start the year off with the supplies they need to be successful, but we were also able to bring their families together to create a sense of community.”