School Supply Spectacular Saturday at Brookside

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

Kids are picking up their backpacks full of school supplies at last year’s Cass County School Supply Spectacular. (Leader photo/Provided)

Kids are picking up their backpacks full of school supplies at last year’s Cass County School Supply Spectacular. (Leader photo/Provided)

The start of school is just a few weeks away.

Students can get a head start on preparation by taking part in the sixth annual Cass County School Supply Spectacular at Brookside Learning Center Saturday.

The United Way of Southwest Michigan is partnering with the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District to provide students with school supplies Saturday at Brookside and Aug. 21 at the Marcellus United Methodist Church. Both events will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The United Way will distribute 1,000 new backpacks filled with grade-appropriate school supplies. The backpacks will be 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 child to receive a backpack.

“This is the third year that I have personally worked on the event and it is truly my favorite Day of Action of the year,” said Emily Hosinski, project manager, innovations at the United Way of Southwest Michigan. “It’s a very tangible project and the volunteers feel great about participating and being able to see the fruits of their efforts. It’s very rewarding when you see those huge piles of backpacks filled with supplies and knowing that so many children are going to have a great first day of school because all of us came together to make this event happen.”

More than 150 volunteers, began Tuesday organizing supplies and inventory in preparation for Friday’s packing.

Companies like Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, Kemner Iott Insurance Agency, AEP, Honor Credit Union, Whirlpool, Chemical Bank, Allied Solutions, Lake Michigan College, United Federal Credit Union and more have joined forces to make the event a success.

“Borgess-Lee Memorial has participated with the United Way School Supply Spectacular for the past four years,” Tammy Yeager, human resource and community events coordinator at Borgee-Lee said. “We donate ink pens for the backpacks and our employees volunteer to help pack on Friday and distribute on Saturday.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Lee Memorial and our staff to help with this worthy cause. I participated last year in packing 1,200 backpacks and I was amazed at the efficiency and speed of the whole operation. Emily does a great job in coordinating this event. It was an awesome sight to see the mountains of colorful backpacks lining the walls of the gymnasium at Brookside. I’m looking forward to helping again this year.”

What’s really neat about this event is that there are opportunities for young people to volunteer as well, so it’s a great event to bring the whole family to and instill the importance of volunteerism at an early age,” Hosinski said. “We also have volunteers who have, in the past, received backpacks through this project and now that their hard times have ended, feel it’s important to give their time and energy to make sure this project keeps going for others in need in our community.”

Also at the Brookside giveaway there will be child identification kits provided by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, dental checks provided by the Cass County Health Department, fresh food provided by Feeding America Mobile Food Pantry and United Way of Southwest Michigan and library cards provided by the Cass District Library.

“I’m also really excited about the addition of the Feeding America Mobile Food Pantry that United Way has sponsored to be on site for this event,” Hosinski said. “We’re talking about 7,500 pounds of fresh produce and grocery items that result in about 20 pounds of food for each of the first 360 families. This is new this year so most families who attend the event year after year will be pleasantly surprised by this generous addition.”