VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – With back to school on the horizon in Vincennes, parents are feeling the back-to-school push to get their kids the newest gear for the school year. However, that’s not a reality for all parents, where other financial priorities may come first. A faith-based, not-for-profit agency, KETA, is helping needy families cut costs by giving kids backpacks filled with toiletries and school supplies. The event is scheduled to take place August 9 at the Washington Christian Center in Vincennes.
In a room at the back of the Washington Christian Center, KETA Co-coordinators, Diana Carmean and Cathy Schlomer are organizing backpacks into groups by student age, and placing school supplies on a table near the front of the room. Both work as volunteers.
“It’s an amazing program that we have just been blessed by here in Knox County that we’re able to help so many children,” said Schlomer. KETA, which stands for ‘Kids Equipped to Achieve’, aims to bring the community together by giving needy students school supplies, and doing so in a family-friendly environment.
For the 2014 school year, volunteers anticipate handing out 700 supply filled backpacks. The backpacks come equipped with notebooks, pencils and folders; toothbrush, tooth paste and other personal hygiene products. In order for a student to receive a backpack, the student must first be registered at KETA’s website.
“The backpack is filled, for one thing, toiletries we do: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and all of that goes in so they start of school nice and sparkly clean,” said Carmean.
With 700 anticipated students taking home backpacks, volunteers say the need in Knox County is beyond low-income families.
“It’s not just poverty stricken families anymore, it’s people that work hard everyday but are struggling to make ends meet and school is expensive,” said Schlomer “We want to show the kids of Vincennes that they are loved. That there are people in our community that love them.”
KETA collects school supplies and backpacks on a donation based platform only. Carmean told News 10, she would be leaving for Princeton Thursday afternoon to buy backpacks. With all of the anxiety leading up to backpack giveaway day, volunteers say, it’s a revolving circle. They explained students that received in the past, had come back to donate as adults.
The event, which is scheduled for August 9 at Gregg Park and the Washington Christian Center, will welcome area churches and a bounce house. Organizers say they want the atmosphere to be family friendly; a parent will escort a child to receive the backpack. The child gets to pick and fill up the backpack.
“Kids get to go through, and they get to pick out their own backpack, and their folder, it’s not just a pre-packed bag,” said Schlomer.
“You almost have to be here to see what it means to the children, when they walk in that gymnasium and see all those backpacks displayed and know that they are going to get to search and pick that very backpack that’s mean just for them. It’s just amazing their eyes just light up and the smiles from ear to ear, and it’s just wonderful,” said Carmean.
In an interview via telephone with News 10 Thursday, Vincennes Community School Corporation Superintendent Greg Parsley praised the efforts of KETA and explained the volunteers’ hardwork was a major contribution to the Vincennes Community.
Vincennes Community schools are scheduled to welcome students back for class on August 7.