CHICAGO (CBS) — The end of summer vacation and the start of a new school year can be tough on students and parents, but a Chicago charity is hoping to make the transition a bit easier for low-income families.
Back 2 School Illinois was distributing nearly 14,000 of its signature school supply kits Wednesday morning at Broadway Armory Park in Edgewater.
Four semi-trailer trucks filled with the back to school kits spent the morning loading the kits into the gym at Broadway Armory Park. The kits were filled with more than 420,000 school supplies for low-income students as part of Back 2 School Illinois’ largest event of the year. The organization raises funds throughout the year to provide the supplies.
“Ultimately, when kids have the tools, and they’re able to succeed in school, that sets them up for life, and then they can be productive members of society. So investment in education, that’s the smartest way we can spend our money,” Back 2 School Illinois CEO Matthew Kurtzman said.
Back 2 School Illinois creates supply kits for four different age levels.
“In the younger kits, you’d find things like crayons and construction paper, and colored markers; and then for the older kids you’re going to find college-ruled paper, and binders, protractors, rulers, things like that,” Kurtzman said.
About 400 students from ages 6 to 12 were on hand at Broadway Armory Park for a series of educational activities as part of the school supply giveaway. Volunteers planned to deliver the rest of the kits to YMCA locations around the Chicagoland area.
According to Kurtzman, the four hours of activities at Wednesday’s event will help kids get back into a school year mindset, while the supplies come as welcome relief for their parents.
“It’s a tremendous burden for families to have to pay for school supplies,” he said. “In fact, now schools are asking for kids to bring more and more stuff like Kleenex, and hand sanitizer, and a ream of 500 sheets of paper. So it’s a tremendous burden on them.”
Wednesday’s event is just the start of Back 2 School Illinois’ annual effort to provide school supplies to needy students. Kurtzman said the organization hopes to provide a total of about 35,000 kits throughout the school year.