Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

August 3, 2013

Bell about to ring for Backpacks of Love event

By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — With temperatures expected to be in triple digits all next week, Kimberly Rainey knows what that means: It’s time for Backpacks of Love.

“It’s usually the hottest week of the year when we do this,” she laughed.

Nothing like a little sweat, though, for a very good cause. Rainey and the volunteers she works with don’t mind at all.

Backpacks of Love is a community event that provides eligible Navarro County students with a backpack full of school supplies for the upcoming start of school. This will be third year for the program, and despite the temperatures, it is held indoors, at Drane Intermediate School’s gymnasium.

“It’s well air-conditioned,” said Rainey, Minister of Benevolence and Missions at Northside Baptist Church. For that, the group is thankful for the Corsicana Independent School District’s cooperation, she said.

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Backpacks of Love

What: School supply give-away program

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Aug. 7-8; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aug. 9

Where: Drane Gym

Cost: Free to Navarro County students who qualify for reduce or free lunches

Note: Proof of enrollment for each child, family income and picture ID for parents needed

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Backpacks of Love came together after a number of organizations doing solo projects decided to make it one large community event. The first year the event was at Northside, leaving students and parents out in the summer heat.

“(At Drane) they can come in and fill out the applications,” said Rainey, one of several members of the Backpacks for Love committee.

The paperwork is for record-keeping purposes, primarily, Rainey said, allowing volunteers to track which school districts the supplies are headed to.

“It’s not very difficult,” she said.

Volunteers will prepare backpacks and supplies for about 2,100 students, having ordered the backpacks from dollardays.com, and getting most of the supplies from Office Depot. Each year, the committee solicits bids for supplies, she said. Funds are raised throughout the year, and local foundations and service clubs have been generous, she said.

Typically, the event leads to 1,700 to 1,800 of the backpacks being distributed. The remainder is sent to county school counselors.

“If a kid shows up the first day of school without school supplies, the counselor can give them a backpack,” Rainey said.

By making the program available to students and parents for 25 hours over three days, organizers believe there is ample time to claim supplies, and not have to wait in long lines. The first day is still heavy though, Rainey said.

There should be plenty for every student in need, she said.

“We’ve never run out,” Rainey said.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something the whole community can get behind,” she added. “... It’s great to be a part of a community supportive of kids preparing to go back to school.

“When they go back to school that first day, we want them to be prepared just like everyone else.”

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