Salvation Army Des Plaines hosts backpack giveaway

  • Laura Hernandez and her daughters participate in a backpack distribution at the Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps Community Center.

    Laura Hernandez and her daughters participate in a backpack distribution at the Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps Community Center. Courtesy of Katie Heinz Pfingsten

Updated 7/28/2021 11:50 AM

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of nearly $850 on school supplies this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

That cost is out of reach for many families, especially those facing economic setbacks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


The Salvation Army is working to ease the burden on families throughout the greater Chicago area, including the Northwest suburbs.

The Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps Community Center hosted a backpack giveaway for local families ahead of the start of the new school year. The corps gave away 115 backpacks full of school supplies, including notebooks, folders, pencils, pens, markers, and other essentials.

Major Tina Stasiuc, corps officer at The Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps, helped organize the distribution targeted at families in Des Plaines, Rosemont, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights.

"If we can relieve some worry about all of the things which they have to plan and think about -- especially with the school year coming -- providing support with the backpacks and school supplies is a big deal," Stasiuc said.

Laura Hernandez brought her two daughters, ages 8 and 9, to the backpack distribution.

She said both she and her husband lost their jobs during the pandemic. The school supplies for each of her children will help to ease the burden.

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"They will have everything they need to do what they have to do at school," Hernandez said.

Volunteers from Deluxe Corporation assisted with the event. Mrs. Illinois America Dr. Chris Baek also volunteered at the block party and donated 10 backpacks filled with school supplies.

Baek, a Des Plaines resident, said the chance to help children in her own community was especially meaningful.

"I immigrated with my family when I was 3 years old, and places like Salvation Army were very important as far as us trying to get our feet on the ground," Baek said.

"So, I want to give back to the community as a result of the type of service and support we received when we came to America."

The Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps offers a range of programming and social services, including a food pantry, emergency assistance, and the Breakfast with Baby program, which provides material and spiritual support to mothers in need. The corps also hosts weekly worship services in English, Spanish and Russian.

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