A Success Story to be Reduplicated
By Catholic News Service
with the Beginning of the School Year
Catholic Charities agencies in Illinois helped families get a jump start on school needs by providing school supplies at several locations throughout the Joliet Diocese.
The agencies sponsored annual Back-to-School Fairs, complete with clowns, balloons and face paintings, where they distributed school supplies for families in need.
For the past 10 years, Eunice Ward, a parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish in Joliet, and Rita Herman, a member of St. Bernard Parish in Homer Glen, have dedicated countless hours coordinating and packing the most common supplies elementary school students need to start the year off right. This year, a limited number of canvas backpacks were given as raffle prizes at the fairs.
More than 60 volunteers gathered over a two-day period, July 31-Aug. 1, at the Second Baptist Church in Joliet to pack up approximately 2,400 packages of school supplies. In total, the volunteers for the Aug. 8 Joliet fair expected to distribute 4,800 folders and spiral notebooks, 16,800 pieces of loose-leaf paper, 38,400 crayons and 2,400 bottles of glue.
An assortment of blue, black and red pens was being given away, along with the necessary No. 2 pencils, erasers, rulers and scissors. Each student receives supplies valued at $14.
Over the years the fairs have become increasingly popular. They also serve as an opportunity to distribute information from a variety of social service agencies, including county public health departments, educational services and outreach organizations, and employment service assistance organizations.
Children can receive state-mandated inoculations at the fairs, as long as their guardians provide documentation of medical history.