Dream Center Peoria prepares for weekend backpack giveaway, Ameren Illinois donates $15,000

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Two thousand backpacks in Peoria were stuffed with back to school items Tuesday. It’s all in preparation for The Dream Center Peoria’s distribution this Saturday.

Since 2002, Dream Center Peoria, a faith-based not-for-profit has given away thousands of backpacks to area children in need. On Tuesday, volunteers stuffed the packs with back to school essentials.

“We just feel with a lot of the layoffs and people struggling a little bit that the backpacks are going to be a real essential item this year,” said Dream Center’s executive director, Andy King.

Normally, hundreds of people line the sidewalks by the center as backpacks are handed out on a first come first serve basis. This year, the center will not be allowing people into it’s building due to COVID-19. Instead, it’s opting for a drive-thru option.

“Instead of having 3-4,000 people go through our building, we’re going to have a drive-thru in the UnityPoint Health parking lot, which is right next to the Dream Center,” said King. “People will be able to come through, drive-thru, get their bag, they’ll get their supplies. First 500 there will be a uniform card. $10 for Sam Harris to help with uniform costs.”

Ameren Illinois gifted the Dream Center $15,000 dollars.

“Building stronger communities is our mantra at Ameren as it is with Dream Center Peoria,” said the Director of Division One with Ameren Illinois, Brian Brackney. “So whether that’s a normal business, or in this COVID-19 environment, we’re going to do whatever it takes to still do that.”

Saturday, July 25, the Dream Center will begin the drive-thru distribution at 9 a.m. It’ll also offer a walk-up option.

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