Dubuque group comes together to help “Fill the Bag” prior to start of school year

Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 3:27 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Beth McGorry has always loved back-to-school time and buying school supplies. Now she gets to put that love to good use. One of her roles at St. Mark’s Youth Enrichment is to work with its “Fill the Bag” initiative.

”It started off with a couple hundred bags for local area schools to have just their basic school supplies being met,” she said. “In the past, our biggest number has been 2,000 bags and 2,000 kids taken care of.”

This year, because of COVID-19, they are raising that number to 3,500.

”These extra 40 dollars to put together a backpack is a lot for some of our parents,” she said. “They are living paycheck to paycheck and trying to make sure that their mortgage and their rents are being paid and this we get to take off their plates.”

But filling bags with notebooks, pencils, and crayons is not something they can do on their own, so they have partnered with Dubuque retailers.

”For us to be able to bring all of those supplies to our kids, we need to get it at the lowest price that we can get at,” McGorry said. “Those dollars, we can spread those dollars beautifully through our retailers here in town.”

They are also looking for volunteers to help them out during the first week of August.

”We have never done 3,500 bags to schools so we will need folks to help in delivering those bags to schools and being a part of that bag buildup,” she said.

There are still many unknowns when it comes to how the first day of school will look like. She said, however, that will not deter them.

”We will still be distributing school supplies whether our kids go back virtually or if they go back to in-classroom teaching, so we are going to take care of them no matter what,” she commented. “Those school supplies will be there whenever they get back into that classroom or even if the schools decide to distribute them to their homes.“

McGorry said, at the end of the day, it is all about the kids.

”I got a ‘thank-you card’ from one of our first graders and it was ‘Thank you for making me feel normal’ and I think that stigma of not having enough really is part of why we do this,” she said. “School is stressful and we want to make sure that our kids feel loved and cared for and what a beautiful way and a simple way to make a kid feel loved.”

Parents interested in the program are encouraged to reach out to their school counselor.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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