When the director of the Upshur Parish House Kristi Wilkerson asked the Upshur County School system to publicize their annual Backpack & School Supply Distribution, little did she know how it would be received.
She assumed that the school system would again post it on their Facebook page, so the Parish House backpack team, coordinated by Rev. Barry and Pam Ball this year, planned for an increase in distributions. “Last year,” said Wilkerson, “we distributed 307 backpacks and 330 the year before, so we usually plan for 300-400 total, but not only did the school system post it on social media, they also did a blast phone call to all students’ homes.”
The response was overwhelming, but, with a lot of shopping and restocking, the Upshur Parish House met the need. This year, 611 backpacks filled with school supplies were given to Upshur County students of all ages, Pre-K through seniors in high school, so that they can complete their homework at home in the evenings. The children and youth received pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks and loose filler paper, 3-ring binders, folders, crayons, scissors, highlighters, markers and more.
One mother came by the distribution on her break from a local fast food restaurant, after just being told of the event. “She was excited and in disbelief that she could get all her children’s backpacks for free,” Wilkerson said. “My guesstimate is that more than 95% of those coming to the distribution really needed the help and appreciated what they received.
The Parish House received donations of items from United Methodist churches throughout the Wesleyan District, as well as churches of other denominations, local businesses, and individuals.
“We are deeply appreciative of the generosity of everyone who purchased backpacks and supplies, made financial contributions, or volunteered their time throughout distribution, so that these students could begin their school year with all of the items they need,” stated Wilkerson. “We are grateful for the kindness, care and compassion extended to our neighbors by all those who support the ministry and work of the Parish House.”
Preparation for next year’s distribution has already started. As school supplies and backpacks go on sale or clearance, the Parish House invites folks to purchase those items and drop them off for storage. All items will be put to good use for students.