PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — The Hope Chest in Pekin gave out hundreds of free backpacks and school supplies at their annual backpack giveaway, Wednesday, Aug. 4, hoping to help offset costs of back to school shopping.
Teaming up with two local churches, Elevate and New Beginnings, the shop handed out almost 300 backpacks to students and families at Wilson Intermediate School in Pekin.
The store’s director of community services, Jessica Cotty, says these programs and events are huge for families that could be struggling.
“Any year back to school is a huge expense, and if you have multiple kids, it’s even more so,” Cotty said. “It can put families in a financial situation.”
Shop employees and volunteers make sure families have options, offering backpacks and supplies for students Pre-K through twelfth grade.
In every bag, kids receive essentials like pencils and pens, notebooks, folders, binders, and more. Cotty said they also get a coupon good for 10 free clothing items from the shop.
“To alleviate a little bit of that pressure is definitely great,” Cotty said. “It might be a dark day, but it’s not forever. There’s help out there.”
A parent of two, Selena Sisk, is preparing to send her kids back to school full-time this year. She said parents can spend at least 50 or 100 dollars per kid, adding that this year’s supply lists are extensive.
“This, literally, is going to take off so much, we’ll be able to buy the other things that are in the supply (list), now without worrying what bill’s not going to be paid,” Sisk said.
Sisk said she is always grateful for the giveaway event, and said it’s something every parent should take advantage of.
“I encourage everyone, it doesn’t matter if you earn one-hundred thousand dollars, or you’re living in your car,” Sisk said. “Why not take it if it’s offered?”
Cotty said this year, The Hope Chest gave out 450 backpacks, fifty short of their 500 backpack goal.