Excerpted from the Kent Reporter, Brian Beckley
August 22, 2009
Nearly 200 children showed up Thursday to try and get one of 100 new backpacks stuffed with school supplies given out by the Kiwanis Club of Kent and Communities In Schools.
The Kiwanis Club of Kent and Communities in Schools of Kent teamed up with the Kent Parks and Recreation to have a “Backpack and School Supplies” giveaway for elementary students in the Kent School District.
According to Kiwanis President Dave Hobbs, people started lining up at the park an hour before the giveaway began. “It says this is a community in need,” he said. “There’s a lot of people struggling with the economy as it is.”
For the families who received the the green and orange packs, the donation of school supplies in a difficult economy meant the world to them.
“I have everything now for my kids,” said Maria Fernandez, whose 5-year-old Oswaldo heads to kindergarten this fall. “I can save up money for other things like clothes or tennis shoes for them.”
It was a common refrain throughout the park.
Amber Dresie was on hand to pick up a backpack for her daughter Caitlyn, eight. “It means a lot to my kid because she would otherwise not have school supplies,” Dresie said, adding that like others, spending money on school supplies would mean going without somewhere else. “It helps put food on the table.”
Communities In Schools treasurer and Kiwanis Club of Kent member Janet Stebbins said the backpack project took shape over the past few weeks as the clubs were looking for a project. Stebbins said the local schools support group Communities In Schools provided the backpacks and Kiwanis provided the supplies, but even she was taken aback by the number of people who showed up for the event.
“I’m a little shocked,” she said. “I think it says this is a tough economy and people need help.
Because organizers were overwhelmed by the turnout, not every child received a backpack. However, the Kiwanis and Communities In Schools took down names of the other students and said they would be working to collect supplies for them as well. Anyone interested in donating school supplies or money for supplies should call Janet Stebbins at 253-709-9559.
“If you’ve got the means to donate, do so,” said Kiwanis President Dave Hobbs.