On the first day of school each year, lots of parents post photos of their children wearing new clothes, sporting a new backpack and smiling for the camera. For some families living in poverty, though, buying school supplies for the first day of school can be a challenge.
Franklinton is an urban neighborhood west of downtown Columbus, Ohio. According to the Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection at The Ohio State University, 56% of Franklinton residents lack a high school diploma, over 60% of residents live below the poverty line and 93% of students at the school’s public elementary school are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
National Night Out is a national event that aims to bring community members together and help connect them to agencies that can provide free resources to people in need. Last year during the event, the committee members organizing it realized how extensive the need for school supplies was for Franklinton families.
“One of my favorite parts of National Night Out is to see all of the people who have access to resources that they might not be able to afford. School supplies are absolutely huge for this event. In 2018, the school kit give-away was one of our raffle items at National Night Out. What we realized was parents were putting all of their raffle tickets in the drawing for the school kits, so they could hopefully win the school supplies. That really told us [the committee] that there was a huge need for school supplies. That was heartbreaking for me. The kids were telling us that they didn’t have the school supplies they needed to start the school year. That’s when we realized that as a committee, we needed to do something,” said Casey Slive-Traster, a member of the National Night Out committee.
Ashley Montana, who serves on the Franklinton NNO Committee and is also the coordinator of the Columbus CROP Hunger Walk had an idea: she would contact Church World Service to ask for school supplies for the 2019 event.
This August, Church World Service provided 240 CWS School Kits for the Franklinton National Night Out. The kits were distributed with backpacks, so the children would have some of the essentials they need to start the year out right.
Ashley said, “Church World Service was really awesome to donate 240 school kit for our school supply give away. Hopefully, we will give away a backpack to every kid that comes to National Night Out that needs school supplies.” Most of the children who receive the school supplies are residents of Franklinton, and they ranged in ages from small children to older kids in high school.
One parent at the Franklinton National Night out said, “Every year the list of school supplies gets longer and longer and more expensive. It is so nice to have these school supplies for my children, especially the two different bags. My youngest daughter loves her school bags.”
Ashley was also grateful for the school bags. “First, a big thank you! We have already received so many compliments. We love that the school bags are hand-sewn, and it’s really great there are such a variety of them. I love this bag with the cheetah print. It’s a high-quality bag. So, thank you to all of the people that make this possible by sewing the bags. And thank you to all of the congregations that stuff the school kits with the school supplies.”
Because of the dedication of many congregations who support the CWS Kit program, many children will have the school supplies they need to start the school year off right.
“We are so incredibly grateful to all of the churches and all of the donors who provide these items for the school kits. We know that it will go such a long way and there are many kids who can’t afford their school supplies this year, and your support is huge for them, so thank you,” said Casey.