Donated back packs bring hope to kids in need


When Angel Washington tied her laces and headed out the door on a recent Saturday morning, she had no idea the menial tasks of packing book bags would have such a lasting impact on Sheena Davenport, a 32-year-old single mother.

Washington spent hours stuffing crayons, index cards and pencils into kids’ backpacks when she volunteered at Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation at Caswyk Trail in Marietta. Washington, a first-time volunteer, was participating in an international church philanthropy event, Serve Day 2017, on July 15.

Donning matching red T-shirts and braving soaring temperatures, nearly 400 volunteers from Trinity Chapel, a church in Powder Springs, joined 408 other churches across the globe, including 15 others in metro Atlanta, to provide for the needs of their communities.

The volunteers helped in a range of activities from packing school bags to painting worn facilities, spreading pine straw at schools and delivering groceries to senior citizens.

“I am appreciative of anything that I can get,” said Davenport, whose children will get some of the school supplies. “Being that I have an older kid in high school, it’s tough. Because they need things like scientific calculators which can be expensive.”

Trinity saw the strain that low-income families and many under-funded local schools would experience for the upcoming school year as a serious issue in the community.

So, it chipped in to assist Rainbow Housing address its growing list of kids in need of school supplies.

“I have a pulse on the needs of the community,” said Andrew Guerrier, Trinity’s missions and outreach pastor who planned the event.

Each bag packed that morning will go to a child in the Caswyk community, a low-income apartment complex in Marietta where many residents receive housing assistance through the federal housing choice voucher program.

“It’s all about the future of the kids,” said Barbara Johnson, the director of Rainbow Housing at Caswyk Trail.

In the city of Marietta, the average household earns around $44,000 a year. Most families in the Caswyk community earn even less. Some, according Johnson, have little to no income, meaning meals are hard to afford, much less notebooks and pens.

Almost 68 percent of students who go to Marietta Middle School where Davenport’s son goes eat a free or reduced lunch — a need the Rainbow Housing also tries to help. The charity offers free lunch to any child between the ages of 1 and 18 because meals are so hard to come by in the community.

Davenport, a medical assistant, is among 47 other parents of students in the neighborhood who will benefit from the generosity of the volunteers.

For them, a simple backpack filled with supplies relieves a financial burden associated with the back-to-school season.

Her back-to-school budget for her two children is $200, way below the national average of $674, according to the National Retail Federation. The federation estimates that this year $29.5 billion will be spent on back-to-school shopping, a significant rise from last years’ totals.

For families such as the Davenports, that’s just not possible.

That’s why events, such as Serve Day 2017, are so important. Davenport said she was so moved by the generosity of the volunteers she wanted to give them a hug.

“It makes me appreciate people who go out of their way to be there for other people in their time of need,” she said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

DeKalb Schools’ graduations under contract for week after school ends
DeKalb Schools’ graduations under contract for week after school ends

Any hope parents had of convincing DeKalb County School District officials to change the districts graduation plans, currently expected for the week after school ends, are mostly moot. District officials signed contracts on Oct. 12 to hold 2019 high school graduation May 28 to June 2, the week after school ends. The contract, received by the Atlanta...
Opinion: Fulton is losing superintendents and teachers
Opinion: Fulton is losing superintendents and teachers

Tom Pemble served as a Fulton County high school science teacher for 28 years. He is one of several Fulton residents who have sent me essays about the recent resignation of Superintendent Jeff Rose, who leaves next month. Rose cited personal reasons, but some Fulton parents believe the school board is at the root of his abrupt departure after two-and-a-half...
Survey finds child-care challenges undermine Georgia’s economy
Survey finds child-care challenges undermine Georgia’s economy

A new survey tries to put a cost on the disruption to Georgia’s economy and tax base when parents miss work or leave the workforce altogether due to challenges with child care. The bottom line comes from economist Tom Cunningham: $1.75 billion in lost economic activity and and $105 million in diminished state tax receipts. Cunningham, a senior...
Georgia turnaround chief: missing ‘collaboration’ creates ‘barriers’ to better schools
Georgia turnaround chief: missing ‘collaboration’ creates ‘barriers’ to better schools

Four of the 19 schools in Georgia’s “turnaround” program have improved enough to get off the list of the state’s worst performers. They are among the first group of 10 picked in December for the state turnaround program, which was created by a 2017 law, said the new agency’s chief, Eric Thomas. Ominously, though, he warned...
Kennesaw State University, student group settles lawsuit
Kennesaw State University, student group settles lawsuit

Kennesaw State and a student group that sued the university over its campus speech guidelines have agreed on a settlement. The group, Young Americans for Freedom, said university administrators intentionally made it difficult for the students to bring a guest speaker to campus because of the group and speaker’s conservative beliefs. The...
More Stories