It’s nearly back-to-school time, and for children in Appalachia living in low-income households it’s a time of fear of embarrassment of showing up for the first day of classes and when the teacher tells them to take out their pencils and paper, and they have neither.
And for their parents, it’s a time of stress and worry in the knowledge their children NEED to have school supplies but there is simply no money available to purchase the required items when rent and utility bills must be paid and groceries must be bought to put food on the table.
That’s why for years, thanks to our supporters, Americans Helping Americans® has been shipping thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies and/or school kits to our partners throughout Appalachia to ensure they have everything they need to get off to a great new school year.
Our goal this year is to provide 4,846 students in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia with school supplies so they will be able to proudly walk into class on the first day of school with all the supplies they need to get off to a successful new school year.
In Beattyville, Kentucky, where the Lee County Elementary School’s Family Resource Center (FRC) has requested 450 backpacks with school supplies, which director Paige Ramey says will be distributed “directly to the children of my rural elementary school, as approximately 85 percent of students live in poverty and do not have access to needed educational materials.
“Most families in this area do not have access or finances to afford basic needs, let alone educational supplies for their children,” said Paige, adding, “Many funds and programs in this area are focused on providing essentials, such as food, but little to no assistance is available to students who need educational supplies.”
The FRC hosts an annual “Readifest” before the start of each new school year where the backpacks from Americans Helping Americans® are to be distributed.
“This back-to-school program is unique in the area, as the FRC works to provide students with everything on their classroom supply list so as to not further burden their parents and teachers,” she told us.
“This ensures that no child goes without supplies needed to enhance their educational experience.”
The same is true in McDowell County, West Virginia, one of the most distressed counties in one of our country’s poorest states.
“Because of Americans Helping Americans®, kids will have a new book bag and school supplies to start the new school year off right,” says Dyanne Spriggs, co-executive director of our partner there, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA). “Families served are very appreciative of what they receive to help them live a more comfortable life and get the necessities they may not have otherwise.
“When families struggle to pay their normal monthly bills, they usually don’t have any money let to buy their child a backpack and school supplies.”
This year, BCPIA has requested 250 backpacks filled with school supplies to distribute at its “Back-to-School Bash” at Southside K-8 School in August.
Without the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, “Big Creek People in Action would not have the funds to purchase these basic need items we receive and distribute to our families. We appreciate your generous support of our organization and the people that we serve.”