Salvation Army gives over 1,400 students supplies

Families gather to sign up for their new backpacks and school supplies at the Crossroads Charter Academy Elementary back-to-school night. (Courtesy photo)

Families gather to sign up for their new backpacks and school supplies at the Crossroads Charter Academy Elementary back-to-school night. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — More than 1,400 youngsters had a new backpack filled with supplies to start their school year, thanks to the Big Rapids Salvation Army.

Through the “Tools for Schools” program, Salvation Army volunteers invested more than 220 hours packing and distributing donated backpacks. Each student received supplies including pencils, pens, a ruler, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, a dictionary, paper, folders, markers, crayons, glue sticks and more.

Students in eight area school districts received the filled backpacks at no charge. Distribution events happened in conjunction with back-to-school nights in August at 11 elementary schools in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

“The Salvation Army knows that one key way to help a community grow is to give it the tools it needs to be successful,” said Envoy Ed Hoskins, of the Big Rapids office. “We are giving local students the tools they need to be successful in the classroom.”

For the second year of the Tools for Schools program, Salvation Army organizers expanded the outreach by more than five times the initial effort. Last year, the program provided 260 backpacks with supplies to students at Evart Elementary, compared to more than 1,400 backpacks this year.

Expanding the program to include 10 more schools and hundreds more students wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the local community foundations, businesses and the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, Salvation Army officials said.

“Our local partners have made this program possible by donating funds, time and energy, especially Cargill Salt,” said Envoy Theresa Hoskins, of the Big Rapids office. “We really can’t thank them enough!”

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