Back to School Program
For the past 18 years, the annual Back to School Campaign has transitioned into something greater each year. In the early years, the donations were simple school supplies; years later, backpacks with school supplies were introduced. It wasn’t until we learned how many children receiving the backpacks were either homeless and living in the woods and/or living in homes without electricity or running water when the backpacks began to be filled with all the basic oral and body hygiene items an individual needs each day. These children go to school each day to take showers in the nurses stations. If a student does not look clean or smell clean, there are never any hopes for that child to be socially accepted among their peers in today’s society.
Making sure every child has the very basic’s of what many of us take for granted each day, became paramount for the purpose of social acceptance and self esteem. Every backpack donated receives all of the required basic school supplies. Because social acceptance is so important; especially during the teenage years, extra emphasis has been placed within this age group of students. Therefore, all middle/high school backpacks also receive: Shampoo/rinse, facial/body soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, and the high school students receive disposable razors/shaving cream. The middle/high school male students also receives a body spray/cologne, comb and this year an added thanks goes out to Isabel Deal and family for introducing us to the thought via numerous donations of adding a baseball cap for all of the boys. The middle/high school girls receive a gently used/new purse, makeup, hair accessories and some receive costume jewelry (when available), and feminine products too. Basically, everything food stamps does not allow. Although immeasurable, if the provisions given in each backpack thwarts even one act of bullying; then, the campaign has served a valuable service.
While I realize that donating a backpack with extra personal items and a few nutritional food snacks will never conquer all of the problems our children in this community endure, the giving and providing of such certainly gives some comfort in knowing, we as a group were able to help one more child out there who was in need. By helping one more child each year, a difference has been made. Our backpack committee understands the importance of when the student opens their backpack, it is our goal to send the nonverbal message to that student, “someone cares” about them.
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