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Tools for Schools drive collects almost 50,000 supplies for kids in need.

In its first year, Comerica Bank’s Tools for Schools supply drive made the grade, providing more than 49,000 supplies for local students in need. In partnership with Operation: Kid Equip, Comerica collected donations of school supplies at its 197 traditional banking centers in Michigan, which were distributed to deserving schools across the state. In Metro Detroit alone, almost 35,000 supplies were distributed to various schools in need throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, including schools in the Detroit Public School District.

Reinforcing Comerica’s strong commitment to Michigan, the supply drive was held as part of a Back to School campaign aimed at providing students the tools they need to succeed this year.

Rhonda Davenport, senior vice president and regional manager for Comerica Bank, said the community’s support of the drive was impressive. “This drive could not have been successful without our customers, employees and others who donated supplies. I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you.’ “It’s great to see our colleagues and customers come together and provide support for children in their community,” said Davenport. “With so many people stretched financially due to the economy, the expense of school supplies can present an added burden to many families. We’re thankful that together we could help relieve some of the burden.”

A recent survey from the National Retail Federation projected parents with children in grades K-12 would spend an average of $603.63 on back to school shopping this year. “We know it’s been tough times here in Michigan, and some of the items students need can be costly,” said Davenport. “We want to make sure we’re doing our part to help kids in our community go back to school prepared.”

The vision of Operation: Kid Equip is to create a community where every child’s basic needs are met. The nonprofit provides school supplies, books and dictionaries to children who are at-risk, while also working to increase awareness of the issues facing school-aged children, to help them succeed in school and in life. “Kids can’t write without a pencil or color without a crayon,” said Menachem Kniespeck, founder and chief executive officer of Operation: Kid Equip. “We’re happy Comerica joined us in addressing this important need in our communities.”

Comerica colleagues continue to give their time to help nonprofit organizations such as Operation: KidEquip. Last year, colleagues provided more than 42,000 hours, or $867,000 worth of employee volunteer labor hours to deserving organizations throughout the state.

For more information on Operation: Kid Equip visit


In addition to the Tools for School supply drive, Comerica sponsored and hosted a Backpackpalooza event at its new Michigan market headquarters, 411 W. Lafayette in downtown Detroit.

Volunteers from Comerica Cares, Operation: Kid Equip and CityYear Detroit helped distribute 1,000 free backpacks to local students in need. The backpacks were filled with school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, hygiene items and a Comerica piggy bank.

Janice Tessier, vice president and manager of corporate contributions for Comerica Bank, was one of the many volunteers on hand at the event.

“The children and families at the event were truly grateful to receive this support,” said Tessier. “It’s an important need that can often be overlooked.”

Eight-year-old Jayla Forest was especially excited to volunteer at the event, which was held on her birthday. Jayla helped distribute backpacks and supplies with her mother, LaTrese Forest, who works as a Comerica Bank facilities coordinator for CB Richard Ellis.

“I thought it was a teachable moment,” said LaTrese Forest on the decision to bring her daughter to volunteer at Backpackpalooza Detroit. “I want her to be appreciative of what she has, and to grow up with a giving heart.”

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