As the long summer nights wind down and the schools start opening their doors, most parents are experiencing a bitter-sweet combination of emotions.
For a child, the possibilities are endless when the school year begins. From discovering who the teacher will be to what friends are in their class, the days leading up to it are full of anticipation. It is also, however, a tough time for parents who are doing all they can to make sure their families’ needs are met on a regular basis. Buying school supplies, backpacks, and back to school clothing is a difficult and costly expense to a family who is already struggling. That is where GRACE steps in.
With the support of the community through donations and volunteer hours, GRACE is able to assist with back to school clothes (including new underwear and socks), school supplies and backpacks. The look of excitement on the children’s faces as they receive these items is always matched by the look of thankfulness and relief in the eyes of their parents.
Each year, GRACE partners with GCISD at the annual Back to School Fair. This year, the fair took place on an especially warm Saturday, August 6th. Over 1,000 children from GCISD were enrolled for the fair last May as school was coming to a close. All of the participating families qualified for free and reduced lunch, which is the criteria to receive most services at the fair. For the families who also qualify for free and reduced lunch but did not register in time, GRACE steps in and fills in the gaps.
All children at the fair are also eligible to receive packets of school clothing. GRACE employees and volunteers worked to move clothing for the children to the fair (located this year at 121 Church) to avoid families having to make another trip to GRACE for clothing. This year, 562 children received clothing at the fair alone. In addition, another 300 or more will be served directly from GRACE. GRACE served 72 children at the fair with backpacks, supplies and an additional 150 children so far who did not attend the fair. Those numbers are growing every day as the new school year approaches. GRACE continues to serve families on a daily basis, and in years past, has continued to provide back-to-school assistance through the month of September.
“GRACE is able to support the GCISD fair but there are many families who either did not register for the fair, are new families (either through relocation or with their oldest children just beginning to attend school), are from other school districts, etc.” explained Eliza Marentes, GRACE Client Service Program Manager. “We could not do it without the support of this community. Many organizations and individuals donated the filled backpacks, supplies, and the hard work in relocating GRACE clothing and supplies to 121 Church and serving the families in attendance.”
Among these organizations and individuals were Methodist Southlake Medical Center as well as Pegasus Logistics, whose employees both came together and collected hundreds of supply-filled backpacks. Tory Garcia from GE Aviation Materials was also excited to add even more prepped backpacks to the pile! Marvin Runyon and Ann Arey from Southlake not only brought school supplies, but they also went back out to get missing supplies that made some of our “almost complete” backpacks complete!
Those mentioned are only a few of our wonderful contributors, and several more are in the works.
Because of the generosity and organization of all our volunteers and donors, hundreds of parents no longer have to worry about scrambling to provide the adequate resources for their children to succeed in school. On top of that, there will be hundreds of kids walking around proudly with their new backpack, and that alone makes it worth it.
If you or someone you know is still in need of school supplies, clothing or any other service, please reach out to emarentes@GRACEGrapevine.org or call 817.305.4630.