Bright Beginnings Young Student

Bright Beginnings

The YMCA Bright Beginnings program ensures children in our community are prepared and confident for the school year by providing them with a backpack, school supplies, a hygiene bag, and brand new winter warm-up clothing items.

What Bright Beginning Means

“Several years ago our family was fortunate enough to be recommended to participate in this amazing program. During a period when money was tight in our household not only did Bright Beginnings help us by alleviating some of the financial stress associated with the beginning of a new school year, but they also gave our children an opportunity to get excited about going back to school. We are so blessed to have a program like this available to us, and I will always be grateful to the many people within our community who willingly volunteer their time and money each year to make this happen.”

-Shannon, former YMCA Bright Beginnings participant   

You can help put a child on the path to success. A $150 contribution supports the cost of one child. When you donate, you can designate your contribution to a specific branch that serves students in your area. Don’t forget to select Bright Beginnings.   


Overview of the Program 

YMCA Bright Beginnings ensures that all children are given the necessary tools to prepare for learning and a brand new school year. 

Bright Beginnings Family

Through the program, children will receive a backpack with school supplies, a hygiene bag, and a tote of winter clothing items to help prepare them for a great school year. In order for a child to participate in Bright Beginnings, they must first qualify for the program. Participants will be invited to attend a Student Store at their local YMCA where they will shop for free to collect new items before heading back to school. 

For more information on qualification requirements please contact Leslie Beck-Long, Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement, at

Make a difference in your community and help prepare a child for success in school. Caring adult volunteers are needed for a variety of roles to help make YMCA Bright Beginnings a success. 

Volunteer Opportunities Include:

  • Making a donation - $150 will cover the cost of one participant
  • Donate hygiene items or run a hygiene kit drive in your work or neighborhood (list is below)
  • Donating school supplies and new book bags (list is below)
  • In-person opportunities such as assisting at a YMCA Student Pop Up Event

For more information, contact Leslie Beck-Long, Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement, at


Bright Beginnings Tuckahoe Shoe Ordering


Over 250 elementary teachers were surveyed to create this list of most requested items:

  • Pencils
  • Dry erase markers - 2 packs
  • Markers
  • Sharpies
  • Crayons
  • Post-it Notes
  • Individual white board
  • Binder/loose-leaf paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Child-sized scissors
  • Over the ear headphones

Optional Items

  • 2 red pens
  • 1 box of tissues
  • 4 oz. bottle of school glue
  • 1 box of storage bags (quart or gallon)
  • Small pencil sharpener
  • Flash drive (minimum of 16 GB preferred)


Hygiene Kit

The Y make strengthening our communities our cause. We strongly believe that children who have the necessities they need to succeed can focus on learning and thriving in a new school year. Good hygiene is critical especially in vulnerable communities. With your help, we can ensure the children in our Richmond communities are equipped with what they need for a healthy school year.

How It Works

Below are the items we will be giving students in July and August, as well as a backpack, school supplies and new clothes for the school year.

Choose at least 5 of the items below to include in our kit.  We would love it if you would consider donating the full kit.

Please mail or drop-off these items to your local Richmond YMCA during any hours in which that branch is open.  Please place these items in either one or two watertight clean gallon-size zipper lock bags.  Donations will be accepted through August 11, 2023. Thank you so much for your donation!

The Bright Beginnings program welcomes a diverse variety of people from varying background with different cultures, customs and traditions.  When buying personal hygiene products, please consider multi-cultural products.  Be on the lookout for hair care products that are specially formulated for Black hair.  A few great product lines include Cantu, Shea Moisture, Carol's Daughter, Miss Jessie's, Camilla Rose and more.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (full-size)
  • Band-Aids (one box)
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Soap (bar soap)
  • Full-size conditioner
  • Full-size shampoo
  • Hand sanitizer (full size)

For more information, email Leslie Beck-Long, Director of Volunteer Engagement.

Bright Beginnings Volunteers