PEKIN, Ill. — For the past five years, the Hope Chest Thrift Store in Pekin has blessed families with free book bags right before the first day of school.
“You have to provide for them, make sure they have everything they need and that little bit extra really really helps, especially when you’re trying to pay electricity, trying to pay the water bill and all that,” said William Wyant, father of three.
That’s what the staff at Hope Chest keeps in mind as they give out the book bags.
“I think they’re pretty appreciative of the fact that we do it. It helps them, especially the low income families that can’t provide those necessary supplies that are needed. It takes that burden off and relieves them a little bit, gives them a little more breathing room,” said Jessica Cotty, Director of Community Services at Hope Chest.
Niki Lovan also has three kids in school this year. She said this giveaway is a huge help.
“You can easily spend 40 dollars on backpacks, I figured it could save at least 200 dollars or more,” said Lovan, “There’s a lot of expenses going back to school and then the clothes and stuff. I definitely think it’ll just help with some of the little things and then you can go home and regroup and figure out what you still gotta go get.”
The founder of the thrift store, David Craig, said he wants kids in the community to have a successful school year.
“I believe we’re doing two things, number one, we are giving hope and number two we are changing lives. We are helping people feel like they’re taking a next step up, that they’re taking care of the physical needs of their children to go back to school,” said Craig.
Families who received the free book bags also got a voucher from the thrift store for 10 free items.