Local non-profit provides backpacks to help grieving Manchester students

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Linda Dinndorf delivering backpacks on Sept. 15. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Wednesday, representatives from Friends of Aine presented 18 sets of backpacks to various elementary, middle and high schools in the Manchester School District to help aid grieving children.

The Manchester-based non-profit group is the only one in New Hampshire specifically geared toward helping grieving children, with one in 13, or approximately 20,000 New Hampshire children, experiencing the death of a parent or sibling by their 18th birthday.

“Sometimes kids don’t go to guidance, especially at older grades when kids can rotate between several different teachers and clubs, often it’s the teachers who are on the front line,” said Linda Dinndorf training and education coordinator for Friends of Aine. “It’s pretty safe that most teachers will have a grieving student in their classroom either now or soon and it’s likely that a teacher will see that student first, often before guidance counselors.”

The backpacks, which also included training materials for educators, were made possible from a grant by the Bean Foundation to help address the gap between educators lacking bereavement training and students needing support, with data showing that only seven percent of educators having any bereavement training according to Dinndorf.

“We really saw a gap in the number of students that we feel need support and the lack of training for educators and school personnel,” she said. “With these resources, when they get that call and know a student is coming in and lost a loved one or important person, they have some resources to go to for that grieving student.”

This marks the fourth year of coordination between Friends of Aine and the Manchester School District.

“We’re excited to be continuing to partner with Friends of Aine. We believe that community partnerships continue to help us meet the needs of our families in the district, we couldn’t be more appreciative of the work they’ve done to date and we continue to look forward to working with them in the future,” said Manchester School District Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Gillis.