Coffee County Backpack Blessings and Back to School Bash

To provide free school clothes, supplies, and other resources to children in need in Coffee County

Almost 2,600 of Coffee County’s 10,000 school-age children live in poverty with 1,200 of those in extreme poverty and more than 350 are reported to be homeless. When limited income families face decisions such as keeping their lights on or filling their child’s bellies, backpacks will remain empty. It is bad enough that students come to school with limited food and limited clothing. They do not need to bear the stress of worrying about school supplies as well. Stress, which impairs the brain’s ability to solve problems, influences a student’s motivation and desire to do well in school. Without motivation, these students are at risk of entering the ever-revolving door of school dropout and generational poverty. High-income families are able to put more money towards their children’s cognitive development than those living in poverty. Parents with low income have less time to read to their children, no funds for pre-school, less stable home environments, and few books and supplies.

Sending a child to school prepared with the right resources sends the message to them: “You matter. We have high expectations for you. You can do it”. If preparation is the key to success, think of the difference it can make for these children to have the classroom tools that they need. Something seemingly so simple as a pencil and paper has a tremendous impact on a child’s success in the classroom. This $25,000 grant would allow the Family Services Center of Coffee County and its many local partner agencies to identify approximately 250 children who are most at risk of school failure due to lack of resources. $25,000 will provide a new backpack filled with their school supplies, a new pair of tennis shoes, clothing, underwear, socks, and books to begin the new school year. During the screening process, we will discuss not only the need for school supplies but also other family needs so that we may link them with the necessary resources.

The Family Services Center of Coffee County has a 21-year history of providing programs and services to the community that positively affect the health, welfare, and education of at-risk families. By far, the most prevalent cause of generational poverty in our county is a lack of education. We are taught as children that we need to stay in school because having an education is the first step to finding a job and earning money. Without an education, many are left jobless and impoverished for the rest of their lives. Statistics show that for children who live below the poverty line, the chances of having school success is much lower than that of their peers. Poor students find themselves perpetually behind because of lack of tools and resources, transportation, and mentors, complicated by widespread discrimination. We believe that providing essential supplies and clothing will give children a great start to the school year so that they will have the best chance for school success.