Backpack Build event gives elementary students a head start on the new school year
Students at Newport Elementary School in Beach Park will get a head start for the new school year with backpacks filled with supplies courtesy of Learning Resources, an educational toy company headquartered in Vernon Hills.
Employees from Learning Resources and sister companies, hand2mind and Educational Insights on Tuesday filled 300 backpacks with glue sticks, notebooks, markers, colored pencils and other supplies in the annual Backpack Build event to benefit a school in need.
Each student at the kindergarten through fifth grade school, will receive a backpack including age-appropriate items tailored to specific grade levels. Newport Elementary is among five schools in Beach Park Consolidated Community School District 3.
Besides a backpack for every student, teachers were given empty boxes to fill with supplies, said Principal Chris Anderson.
"My biggest problem today is trying to get enough people to help get (the donated supplies) back to school," he said.
A Newport Elementary teacher cultivated a relationship with Learning Resources and the company saw an opportunity to help ease the stress for local families as kids head back to school.
This was the third backpack event for Learning Resources. But because of pandemic restrictions the past two years, it was the first to be attended by teachers, said Sari Winick, chief marketing officer.
Recipient schools must be a member of Kids in Need Foundation, a national not-for-profit that provides free resources supporting 200,000 teachers and 5 million students, Winick said.
Learning Resources is a KINF donor and in addition to the backpack event, is contributing $70,000 to the organization's teacher resource centers nationwide.
According to Learning Resources, the average household spends $864 to send kids back to school. Anderson said there always are kids who come without the required school supplies for a number of reasons.
"The kids are going to be overwhelmed" by getting everything on their supplies list, he said. "We're just so lucky to be part of this," he added.
Elsewhere in the suburbs, back to school drives also were planned through Friday in Downers Grove and Wednesday at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton.
Supplies and material can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday at state Rep. Anna Stava-Murray's office, 633 Rogers St., Downers Grove.
"This supply drive is about coming together as a community to pitch in for those families who may be struggling due to lingering effects of the pandemic and other factors like inflation," she said.
Catholic Charities is hosting its Back-to-School Fair from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road. Participants can drive through to received backpacks and supplies. Online registration is required at catholiccharitiesjoliet.org.
DuPage County Dental Health Services is hosting a special dental clinic for fair participants. Call (630) 682-7400 to reserve a spot.