Back to school is in full swing and that means it’s time to start thinking about school supplies.
The Southgate Police Department is stepping up its efforts to make the process both easier and less expensive for students and their families by handing out free backpacks, loaded with school supplies, ahead of the city’s first home football game. Southgate Anderson Titans season on August 27.
Distribution of backpacks begins at 6 p.m., one hour before the 7 p.m. kick-off. The school is located at 15475 Leroy.
Director of Public Safety Joseph Marsh said it was a real community effort to put it all together, and now the latest part of the project is giving them all to students who can use them.
Marsh thanked the First Responders Children’s Foundation for donating the backpacks to the Southgate community.
“We were made aware that the foundation was selecting police departments in the state, so we contacted them and told them we were interested,” Marsh said. “They called back and said they would give us backpacks.”
To estimate how many backpacks they would need, Marsh spoke with the Superintendent of Community Schools in Southgate. Sharon Irvin. They ended up with just under 1,000 of them, which arrived in three pallets at the end of July.
According to the organization’s website, the First Responders Children’s Foundation provides financial support to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty and to families experiencing significant financial hardship due to tragic circumstances.
However, the foundation also supports educational activities and programs created and run by first aid organizations whose purpose is to benefit children or the communities in which they live.
While the backpack alone would have been a nice gift for students, Morgan Parrish wanted to take it a step further. Parrish, who is the School Resource Officer, approached Marsh and Police Chief Mark Mydlarz and pitched the idea of a school supply driver to the Southgate Kroger store.
“We thought it was a great idea, but a big push,” Marsh said, saying they knew they had a short window of opportunity to make the project work.
A few weeks after the backpacks arrived, the supply drive took place at Kroger on August 15. Many shoppers donated school supplies, while others made cash donations.
The Southgate Meijer store donated $1,000 in gift cards, which Parrish used to purchase school supplies at the store, and Walmart also made donations.
After all the supplies were donated or purchased, school volunteers and parents helped place them in the backpacks.
Backpacks include an assortment of folders, binders, pencils, and other school supplies, depending on grade level. Marsh said the Southgate Anderson football game seemed like an ideal community event to hand out the backpacks to, but the backpacks are suitable for all age levels, not just high school ones. They come in a variety of themes, such as Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, and the X-Men.
“Because of the amount we have, we’ll give them away to anyone who wants one,” Marsh said. “We want to give them to as many people as possible.”