Back-to-school backpacks: ?Churches outfit area children with ?all they need for start of school

Backpacks, school supplies, and brand new shoes were available for pickup last Wednesday at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank. In collaboration with the King County Library System, local churches, and companies like Costco and Walmart, the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank hosted a day of resources for kids getting ready to go back to school.

Grace Himka

Backpacks, school supplies, and brand new shoes were available for pickup last Wednesday at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank. In collaboration with the King County Library System, local churches, and companies like Costco and Walmart, the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank hosted a day of resources for kids getting ready to go back to school.

Heidi Dukich, executive director of the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, said the health of the community depends on the people who live in it. That’s why  the food bank staff want to collaborate with members of the community to help provide these services to those who need them.

“We recognize here at the food bank the need for helping families all year round, particularly in the summertime when kids are home from school,” Dukich said. “It’s really important for us to have community involvement. We could do all those things, but we could be more successful if we are engaging our community and giving people an opportunity to help.”

Dukich and the food bank worked together with Jane Benson, the church coordinator for the school supplies, to give out backpacks filled with supplies appropriate for grade levels from Kindergarten through high school.

“This year, we now have five churches that are participating by having their congregations donate supplies or money for supplies,” Benson said.

Kids signed up at the food bank and were categorized by grade level: Kindergarten through second third through fifth, sixth and seventh, and eighth through 12th.

Each pack is filled with basic supplies by age category; high school students get extras like protractors, index cards, and graph paper.

Jan Van Liew, director of the Gift of Apparel clothing bank and also on staff at Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church, has been running shoe drives for 11 years and was doing the same at the food bank on Wednesday.

“We take the names and shoe size of every kid, make up a card for them, spread them all out on a big table at church on Sundays, and everyone comes in and ‘adopts’ a kid and goes to buy a pair of shoes for that kid as if they were buying them for their own children,” Van Liew said.

The shoe distribution is done on the last two Wednesdays of August so the kids can pick up all of their supplies at once.

Konrad Roeder, a community member and food bank client, really stressed the importance of having these services available to the people who need them.

“These resources must be supported,” Roeder said. “It’s only possible because of contributions from individuals.”

Van Liew is proud of the work that the community has done. She said that having a community willing to support people in need is a good feeling.

“A small act of buying a pair of shoes means so much, donating a backpack or school supplies means so much, if you can spare some extra groceries the food bank appreciates it so much,” Van Liew said.

“This Valley does take care of its own and I’ve never seen anything like it where I’ve lived. It just feels good to know that even those who struggle are being taken care of here.”

Dozens of backpacks, stuffed with school supplies were lined up at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, waiting for their future owners to collect them.

 

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