United Way, Lewis Cass team for kids with back to school supply distribution

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, August 18, 2011

United Way of Southwest Michigan, in partnership with Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, local school districts, businesses and community agencies, hosted the fourth annual Cass County School Supply Spectacular Aug. 13 at Brookside Learning Center, 61682 Dailey Road, Cassopolis) and Wednesday, Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Marcellus United Methodist Church, 197 W. Main St., Marcellus.

United Way is distributing 1,500 new backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies.

The backpacks are given away on a first-come, first-served basis to low-income families in Cass County.

All children must be accompanied by an adult and adults must bring their children to this event in order to receive backpacks.

At the Aug. 13 event at Brookside Learning Center, additional back-to-school services were available free to families including: free haircuts for children by local stylists;

dental checks by the Cass County Health Department;

sign up for library cards from the Cass Main and Dowagiac District Libraries;

bus safety demonstrations by Tri-County Head Start; and

child ID kits from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Angel Food Ministries, Link Crisis Intervention Center and Great Start Collaborative representatives were also at this event to discuss the services their programs provide to the community.

“There is a great need for this event in the community,” said United Way President Anna Murphy.

Approximately 4,000 children in Cass County qualify for free or reduced lunch.

And, as the price of gas, food and other necessities climb, back-to-school expenses are increasingly difficult for families to afford.

“In order for children to be successful at school, it’s important that they start the school year with all the tools they need to learn,” Murphy said.

“Having the appropriate school supplies also increases a child’s confidence and builds excitement about going back to school.”

This event was made possible due to financial support and in-kind donations received from Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, St. Denys Foundation, McLoughlin Family Foundation, Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, Pamida Foundation, Midwest Energy Cooperative, Cass County Youth Council, AEP: Indiana Michigan Power, The Edward Lowe Foundation, Stephenson Land Surveying, Penn Friends Community Church, Department of Human Services-Cass County, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union and countless individuals who “adopted-a-student” to support this event.

This event would also not be possible without more than 100 volunteers who committed to organizing supplies, packing backpacks and assisting with the distribution of these backpacks on the day of the event.