Help available for parents unable to afford school supplies

ISHPEMING — As students get ready to head back to school, there is an underlying expensive that impacts them all, school supplies.

Students are zipping up their backpacks and getting ready to head back to school. While shopping for school supplies is cutomary for many students and their families this time of year, for others it’s a difficult expense.

“I think that there is a tremendous need in the community and from the feedback we get from community members, I would say that’s confirmed,” said Silver Creek Church Pastor, Kevin Taylor.

One local school district works on ensuring that all students have access to these needed supplies through the Patriot Pack Program.

“Families that are maybe having trouble making ends meet, we put a backpack in their locker filled with things they might need for school and for home. The kid just takes the backpack home and returns it empty to his/her locker. We pick it up again and do it on a weekly basis until the student’s families are back on their feet or we can continue it all school year,” said NICE Community School Superintendent, Bryan DeAugustine.

This program greatly supports students in need.

“We hovered around 50-60 kids last year district wide, so it does impact and help a lot of kids. It’s a good community effort and we get a lot of donations and a lot of funds from community members who just take it upon themselves to help families in need,” said DeAugustine.

Another option for students attending NICE Community Schools is a giving tree.

“It’s a tree outside of classrooms that is created in an artistic style, and if someone wants to donate crayons, paper, or anything like that, you just pick a leaf off the tree and it will say what is needed. The person that takes that leaf comes back in with the supply, gives it to the teacher, and the teacher distributes it to the students who need that help,” said Augustine.

Schools aren’t the only institutions providing back to school supplies, but also local churches.

“The block party is something that we do every year, providing schools supplies for up to 400 students in our community. We give them the backpacks and the school supplies to get ready for the first day, as well as a couple complete outfits for children who need them,” said Taylor.

The block party will be held this Saturday at the Silver Creek Church in Marquette County from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M., anyone is invited to come and donate what they can. With the help of the community, all students are given the chance to reach their full potential.

“We’re really conscious of some of the hard economic times that families are facing so anything we can do to help and anyway the community can help, it seems like a really popular thing to do, to make sure students have what they need. We want to give every student the opportunity to succeed,” said DeAugustine.

To get students enrolled in the Patriot Pack Program, you can contact the guidance offices at NICE Communities Schools.