By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — For most students in the Kansas City area, school started last week. The weeks before that first day families were crowded with shopping for school supplies. Remember that pencil case, with your name decoratively printed on it, filled with sharpened pencils and blue or black pens? Many children might not have memories like that, because their families simply cannot afford those items.
Children in need at Holy Cross School and in St. Anthony’s Parish, returned to their classrooms last week with supplies to start the new school year right. They did so thanks to the Junior Board of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
About 20 Junior Board volunteers gathered the evening of Aug. 6 on the top floor of the Catholic Center to stuff plastic bags with pencils, crayons, pens, notebooks, rulers and other school supplies by the light of the late afternoon sun. Music played, the young adults talked, laughed and formed an efficient assembly line filling the bags. They worked quickly, first one bag was filled, blink an eye and 10 were filled, then 30 and within 2 hours, 450 bags were filled with school supplies.
Catherine Hooper, Catholic Charities liaison to the Junior Board, said this was the second year for the school supply drive and distribution. In 2012, the Junior Board provided school supplies for St. Anthony’s Parish only. This year, they expanded to include Holy Cross Parish/School and homeless students who frequent the Morning Glory Café at Donnelly Hall across the parking lot from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Hooper said the parishes were selected based on demographics and demand for essential back-to-school supplies.
All the supplies were purchased with funds raised from the Junior Board Soiree, an annual springtime fund raiser. The Junior Board purchased the supplies in late spring and summer, except for Crayola products which were donated by Good 360, with the assistance of YRC Worldwide.
The volunteers filled 250 bags of school supplies for kids in St. Anthony’s Parish. Catholic Charities has a long-standing relationship with the parish — for several years the agency operated the Father Hix Center at St. Anthony’s — 190 bags for students at Holy Cross Parish and 10 bags for students at the Morning Glory Café. The bags were distributed after Mass on Aug. 11.
Students and their families both benefited from the school supply distribution. The families were able to spend money on other necessities and the students were able to feel happy about returning to school; the new supplies served as a boost to their self-esteem.
The Junior Board plans to make the school supply donation an annual event.
The Junior Board of Catholic Charities is a volunteer group of young adult professionals, age 21 and older, who are committed to serving people in need and wanting to make a difference. They participate in a number of social events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. The Soiree is the big event, held each spring at Union Station’s Science City, and raises funds for Catholic Charities programs, including school supply purchases. There is also a holiday social event in early December.
Young adult professionals who are interested in learning more can “like” Catholic Charities Junior Board on facebook or visit www.catholiccharities-kcsj.org. Click on “Ways to Help,” and go to “Join Junior Board” for registration forms and email requests.