Back to School Celebrated at the Backpack Bonanza

The Backpack Bonanza provided Vicksburg school children with supplies and sneakers. This little girl proudly displays her newest gear.

By Paula Schriemer

The 12th annual Backpack Bonanza was held on Saturday, August 3, at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion. It was a lovely summer day for the event, sponsored by Generous Hands, Inc. (GHI) and South County Community Services (SCCS). Participating families arrived throughout the morning and were provided with new backpacks for the school year, as well as age-appropriate school supplies such as folders, pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, scissors and crayons.

“The community was so generous this year that with the many donations that were dropped off and a generous gift card from Meijer, we didn’t have to purchase any school supplies or backpacks,” said GHI Executive Director Sheri Louis. Louis and SCCS Assistant Director Drew Johnson coordinated the event.

There were smiles all around as elementary-aged kids were fitted with new pairs of athletic shoes by the staff of First Day Shoe Fund, a nonprofit organization from Kalamazoo. “This is the third year that we’ve partnered with First Day Shoe Fund for the Backpack Bonanza. They are an outstanding organization to work with,” Louis said. Middle and high school students each received a new reusable water bottle to start the new school year. The 161 people attending the event enjoyed a breakfast of yogurt, muffins, juice and snacks and were provided with additional information on the upcoming programming for both organizations during the next school year.

Vicksburg School Superintendent Keevin O’Neill also attended this year’s Backpack Bonanza. “What an incredible event! It made me so happy to see the kids fill their backpacks with school supplies and get fitted for new shoes. Our families were so thankful. What a great way to kick off the new school year! Vicksburg Community Schools cannot thank Generous Hands and South County Community Services enough for what they do for our students and families,” O’Neill said.

Both organizations expressed gratitude for the 31 community volunteers who turned out to provide supplies for over 100 children. Another 80 students will be picking up their school supplies over the next few weeks at the GHI/SCCS offices on Spruce Street.

It will be a busy fall for GHI and SCCS. Both organizations participated in the Community Tailgate on Friday, August 30. Generous Hands is looking forward to its annual fundraiser, the Fall Extravaganza, on Saturday, November 9 at Indian Run Golf Course. Tickets are available at 269-370-7965. Finally, SCCS will partner with GHI to host their annual Holiday parties on December 6 and 7. They also have the Fabulous Flapjack Fundraiser on October 9 to help raise money for United Way.

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