Parents who need help getting their children ready for the upcoming school year can obtain backpacks stuffed with school supplies by going to St. Vincent Jennings Hospital in North Vernon.
The hospital is conducting its annual Back-to-School Backpack Drive to help low-income families or families who are having unexpected financial difficulties. Jennings County schools start Aug. 5.
“We distributed 360 backpacks last week, but every year we always find people who missed the main distribution. We will be answering requests up to the first day of school. Then we will start getting ready for next year,” said Terri Everage, the radiation department manager at St. Vincent Jennings.
Parents typically apply for a backpack through the administration of the student’s school. Families who qualify financially for food stamps also qualify to receive a free backpack filled with school supplies.
What parents can pick up at the hospital are the extra backpacks that were prepared.
“Thanks to our very generous donors we were able to fill every request that we received from every one of the schools in Jennings County,” Everage said. “Our staff and employees work all year to collect enough school supplies to fill each backpack. Also, several community groups and businesses really help us fund this project.”
People who have moved to the area often don’t hear about the backpack program until after the application deadline, Everage said. Also, families who thought they would be able to afford to buy backpacks and school supplies suddenly run into a major setback or unexpected expense, she added.
“It happens every year, so we are ready, and we make the process as easy as possible. We have backpacks designed for both boys and girls of all ages,” Everage said.