Young volunteers pack 2,500 backpacks with school supplies for kids in need

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Packed, zipped, and ready to go into the hands of kids.

“They are packing 2,500 backpacks loaded with school supplies,” said Dream Center Executive Director Andy King. “Here today on their summer vacation, they’re here helping the Dream Center.”

It’s prep time for the 21st annual Backpack Peoria event on Saturday. To help set up for the event, a group of young volunteers from Grace Presbyterian church lent a helping hand Wednesday.

“We’ve got a little assembly line going on, so we have two different groups and were each doing the same thing: we open up the backpacks, put in the school supplies, [and] put in some pamphlets,” said Jackie Summers, 21, who has been helping with the event since she was in middle school. “I love Peoria. I have a heart for the community, I grew up here, so it’s just a good way to give back.”

King said the event is not just a way for people to give back to the community, but for the community to give back to them by getting kids in need ready for the school year at no cost to their families.

“With COVID added on to it, a lot of people lost jobs, [and] a lot of people don’t know where they are going to be financially going into the school year,” said King.

Not only is the event helping kids, but supporting local businesses too.

“We like to buy local as much as we can, so the bags we purchased through Sam Harris Uniform Store. We also give away 750 uniform cards for Sam Harris, so $10 on each card for the first 750 students,” said King.

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