Volunteers fill backpacks with school supplies -- and a toy

  • Marie LaPlante of Learning Resources reaches for items as 50 employees of the Vernon Hills toymaker and neighboring hand2mind toy company pack backpacks Wednesday for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan.

    Marie LaPlante of Learning Resources reaches for items as 50 employees of the Vernon Hills toymaker and neighboring hand2mind toy company pack backpacks Wednesday for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Nate Richards, a graphic artist with Learning Resources in Vernon Hills, grabs folders to put in a backpack as Learning Resources and hand2mind, a fellow toy company, pack 600 backpacks for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan.

    Nate Richards, a graphic artist with Learning Resources in Vernon Hills, grabs folders to put in a backpack as Learning Resources and hand2mind, a fellow toy company, pack 600 backpacks for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Employees of Learning Resources and hand2mind toy companies in Vernon Hills pack backpacks for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan.

    Employees of Learning Resources and hand2mind toy companies in Vernon Hills pack backpacks for kids at North Elementary School in Waukegan. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/29/2020 6:44 PM

Every student at North Elementary School in Waukegan will benefit from the generosity of two Vernon Hills toy companies and the Kids In Need Foundation.

Employees of Learning Resources Inc. and hand2mind, neighboring toy manufacturers in Vernon Hills, spent the day filling 600 backpacks with school supplies and toys to give to Kids In Need, which will then take the backpacks to the school.

 

"Back to school is such a big deal this year, we said, 'We need to do something to help,'" said Marie LaPlante, chief marketing officer of Learning Resources Inc. "We donate a lot of educational toys. We kind of wanted to take it up a notch."

Fifty employees of the two companies worked in hourlong shifts Wednesday under a socially distanced tent operation in the parking lot of Learning Resources on North Fairway Drive. Each filled 15 colorful backpacks with at least 15 different items, like pencils and folders, an age-appropriate toy and a note of encouragement.

Almost 75% of North Elementary students come from low-income families, according to Illinois School Report Card data.

The two toymakers together have 277 employees and produce hands-on educational toys.

Kids In Need Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to provide free school supplies to students nationwide.

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