380 Rotary collects backpacks, supplies
By Abigail Allen Managing Editor
A project started by the 380 Rotary Club in 2020 has already begun to grow.
When group started its backpack drive, Club President Carlos Urquidez said, it was because the members wanted to do something to ease the burden and worries of parents getting their children ready for school.
“Everybody was in limbo.,” Urquidez said about districts deciding whether to hold in-person class. “… People who were hesitant to buy school supplies, buy backpacks.”
That inspired him and his fellow Rotarians to collect donations and give them to the local elementary schools—Providence, Monaco, Brockett and Fuller.
They worked to “fill in those gaps” that kids might be experiencing because the decision wasn’t made until close to the beginning of the school year.
That first year, the group collected around 100, which included some ready-to-go backpacks provided by the club’s current President-Elect Dewayne Brawner.
This year, the total was 121, and there were a few extra supplies on top of that.
Some of the additional backpacks and supplies made their way to Aubrey Middle School, as well, Rotarian Ami Yarbrough said, such as college-rule notebook paper and backpacks that are a bit more grown up than the ones elementary school kids typically gravitate toward.
Having a good, sturdy backpack might make a big difference in the lives of the children who receive them, Urquidez said.
“Backpacks represents so much to so many people,” he said. “For some people, you’re able to express yourself and who you are through your backpack.”
Having an obvious need, like going without a backpack, can also cause embarrassment or shame for some students on top of the physical difficulty of transporting their supplies and books.
Rotarian Linda Inman worked with the school principals to determine the need at each school and to coordinate the way in which the donations would be delivered, which the club members did Monday.
The school counselors are the ones who distribute the backpacks to the children.
Each elementary received 22 filled backpacks and extra empty ones as well.
Many of the Rotarians brought along young helpers to fill the bags.
One of them, Carlos’ daughter Carina Urquidez said she was happy she got to help.
Yarbrough was glad the kids got to help serve their fellow students and think about the need the other children experience.
“That’s a luxury,” she said about getting to pick they want. “They don’t even realize that there’s so many kids out there that can’t even pick out a backpack for school.”
With the help from the young volunteers, the backpacks were all packed by about 11:15 a.m., Urquidez said.
The club might explore ways to organize the donations, and they discussed possibly providing an option for people who want to help financially only to be able to do that easily while still knowing what the money goes to exactly.