Enchanted Backpack brings bounty of supplies to Gavin Central school
Students at Gavin Central Elementary School in Ingleside are unpacking a special delivery of needed supplies.
Two large vans filled with winter coats, hats, classroom needs and other goodies with an estimated retail value of $48,000 were welcomed Thursday by teachers, parents and staff.
The preholiday bounty was courtesy of Enchanted Backpack, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that makes mobile van deliveries to needy schools. Gavin administrators applied last summer after hearing about the program from another school district.
In addition to 1,500 books, the delivery included winter coats, hats, gloves, socks, recess equipment, as well as classroom materials such as crafts and other items.
"It is well above and beyond any expectations," Principal Niki Scofield said. "We are astounded by their generosity."
One of the criteria is more than 50 percent of students receive free/reduced price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. More than 60 percent of the 500 pre-K through fourth grade students at Gavin Central qualify.
"We are just digging our way out of boxes right now," Scofield said. "We have jackets and school supplies and clothes -- everything you could ever ask for. It's unbelievable."
To date, Enchanted Backpack has assisted 30,000 students and 1,700 full-time classroom teachers in "under-resourced" elementary and middle schools and child-focused organizations.
Enchanted Backpack was started with the belief all children deserve to have the tools they need to learn and excel, and that all teachers deserve to have the support and materials to make their classrooms exciting learning centers, according to the organization.
In a 2018 federal Department of Education survey, 94 percent of public school teachers reported spending $479 each on supplies without reimbursement in 2014-15, according to Enchanted Backpack.
Scofield said a supply room is being set up for teachers, and every student will benefit. A process is underway to determine how to get some items, such as winter coats, to students who need them most.
"We have quite a bit of work ahead of us but that's a good thing," she said.