BRIDGEPORT — One of the rituals of summer’s end is back-to-school shopping.
But for some families it's a struggle to come up with the money to buy all the notebooks, crayons, pencils and more that their children will need for the new school year, which starts in a month.
“It’s rough out here, and thank God the Boys and Girls Club is here to help out,” said Letisha Campbell, 25, of Roseland, who brought her two children to the Valentine Boys and Girls Club in Bridgeport on Wednesday to pick up backpacks filled with free school supplies.
Campbell is searching for work and didn't have the money to buy her children the back-to-school gear from giveaway sponsor Sam's Club, which donated the supplies.
“I’m happy because now I will have the things for my school,” said Campbell’s son DeShawn, 9.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago organized the annual backpack giveaway, held across the city at sites including the Jordan Club on West Monroe Street, the King Club on West Washington Street and the Cotter Club on North Leavitt Street.
The clubs used school buses to bring club members to the four sites.
“We have a back-to-school event in the summer for two reasons. One, to provide children with materials and supplies they need for school. And two, we want them to be excited about the upcoming school year,” said Chicago Boys & Girls Clubs President James Keane.
About 400 kids arrived before the backpack distribution in Bridgeport to eat, listen to music and play games, including a relay race mimicking a hectic school day.
“I like the club because I can do things here like swim and take dance lessons,” said Anthony Carmen, 10, who attends nearby McClellan Elementary School.
The backpacks were filled with notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, crayons, markers, rulers and an inspirational note written by employees of Sam’s Club, who also volunteered at the giveaway.
“Our mission is to serve those who need it the most. Our clubs are really here to enable those children particularly,” Keane said.