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July 21. 2013 3:40PM

Gear for Grades

Citizens Bank's Gear for Grades kicks off today


Ray Garon, president and general manager, WZID; Maria Gagnon, vice president and COO, Child and Family Services and Shannon Sullivan, community relations manager, New Hampshire Union Leader, assist Joe Carelli, president, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, New Hampshire in preparing for the launch of Citizens Bank's annual Gear for Grades program. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHSTER — Citizens Bank launches its annual Gear for Grades program on Monday to help local children go back to school with the supplies they need. Customers and the public can support the initiative by donating new items like pencils, folders, notebooks, rulers and other supplies at any Citizens Bank branch in New Hampshire from July 22 through Aug. 9.

This year's program is in partnership with Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Union Leader and 95.7 WZID.

The Gear for Grades program is a part of Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities, the bank's program for contributing to the economic vitality of communities. The Citizens Bank Foundation is donating 3,000 backpacks to the Gear for Grades program. Each backpack will be filled with some of the most needed supplies, including child-safe scissors, pencils, pens, erasers, pocket folders, spiral notebooks, crayons, washable markers, rulers, glue sticks, colored pencils, pencil boxes and index cards. Backpacks will be distributed to local children beginning Aug. 23.

"As a company committed to contributing to the health of our local communities, our Gear for Grades program is another way to show our customers that we care, while engaging them in our efforts to support local children," said Joe Carelli, president, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, New Hampshire. "Helping children to feel excited and ready for the new school year is a small way that we can invest in our communities' future. We thank everyone who will join us in supporting this year's Gear for Grades program."

According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average American family will spend $688.62 on back-to-school expenses, up from $603.63 last year. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden.

"There are so many children in our state whose families lack the financial resources to purchase the most essential supplies for school," said Maria Gagnon, vice president and COO, Child and Family Services. "Every child deserves to have the best chance for success in the classroom, and our partnership with Citizens Bank and its Gear for Grades program will help to make that a reality for thousands of children in New Hampshire."

Child and Family Services will distribute backpacks to children it serves and has identified additional youth programs across the state that will receive the filled backpacks and distribute them to children who need these supplies the most. The New Hampshire Union Leader and 95.7 WZID are promoting Gear for Grades and encouraging readers and listeners to donate supplies.

"We firmly believe in supporting educational programs and are proud to partner with Citizens Bank on Gear for Grades," said Shannon Sullivan, community relations manager, New Hampshire Union Leader. "All children should have access to basic school supplies, and this program ensures that they do. We invite our readers across the state to support Gear for Grades by visiting a local Citizens Bank branch to donate new school supplies that will make a big difference to thousands of children."

WZID will support Gear for Grades with public services announcements to encourage listeners to donate supplies. It will also host a live broadcast on Aug. 6 outside the Citizens Bank branch at Walmart in Amherst, where the public can drop off school supplies from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"We are pleased to once again support Citizens Bank in its effort to collect much-needed school supplies for children across the state," said Ray Garon, WZID president and general manager. "We're happy to get the word out about this important program by encouraging our listeners to make a donation at their local Citizens Bank branch to help get the school year off to a good start for local kids."



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