Backpack drive expands countywide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Outfitting a child for the upcoming school year is an expensive process, but a group of dedicated volunteers are working to make that mission a little easier – and a whole lot cheaper.

Like, free.

For the third year in a row, a group from Bethany Baptist Church is sponsoring a backpack drive, which will provide 800 students from kindergarten through the eighth grade countywide with a free backpack filled with school supplies. This is an increase from last year’s 600 elementary students.

“We all know it’s very expensive to get a child ready to go back to school,” said organizer Kerry Castleberry. “A lot families may be faced with a situation such as having a mother or a father who is out of work, a money is very tight and maybe they have multiple children in the home.

“I have three children, and I can’t imagine buying for more than that,” she said. “Anything we can help to take some of that burden off the family, that’s what we’re there for, and when we think about the morale of the child who can go to school and know that they have a backpack filled with supplies, just like the other children, we know we’re doing something good for our community. This is our mission and our way of giving back.”

Castleberry said the group is working to get the word out two ways.

“First, we’re looking for any church or organization that would like to partner with us, or even a person who’d like to make a donation,” Castleberry said. “We need all the basic school supplies like pencils, pink erasers, wide-rule paper, washable markers, crayons, glue and the like – or money. We’ll be collecting those supplies next Saturday, on June 20, at from 8-4 at Walmart.”

The way the program works is that vouchers are distributed from the Christian Service Centers in Andalusia, Opp and Florala for the filled backpacks, which will be distributed at an event at the Kiwanis Center on Aug. 10.

The second thing Castleberry wants the community to know is vouchers are now available at each of the centers.

Castleberry said the group would also like to feed the children on distribution day, “so any local business who’d like to donate for that, it would be most appreciated.”

To offer donations, contact Castleberry at 334-504-1048. For a voucher, see an area Christian Service Center.