Rebekah Clemons’ three children, Colleen, 8; Lena, 7; and Colton, 6; were shy when they walked into a room at the Salvaiton Army office filled with strangers, but their eyes lit up when they saw the tables full of new backpacks.
By the time they left, the Clemons children had only one thing to say to the Salvation Army and the Family Literacy Center: “Thank you!”
Rebekah Clemons was even more grateful, knowing her children would have the supplies they needed to start the school year right.
“It’s really hard on the budget, the prices are so high on everything,” Clemons said. “And having three small ones, one right in front of the other, it’s a lot of money, a whole lot. A lot of people might think that this isn’t a lot but it really is a huge help.”
The three Clemons children were among 93 children receiving help at the Salvation Army on Friday.
Lt. Julie Trapp, director of the Carthage Salvation Army office, said a $1,000 donation from the Family Literacy Center helped pay for the dozens of backpacks needed for this day.
Trapp said that help plus the help of dozens of people who donated school supplies allowed the Salvation Army to step up their efforts and help more children this year than in past years.
“It’s just wonderful to be able to work, not just by yourself, but to partner with other agencies to make this happen,” Trapp said. “Without the Literacy Council, who knows, we may not have been able to pull off this project. So it’s awesome to be in a community where we can work together with others.”
Larry Hartman, president of the board of the Family Literacy Center, said helping the Salvation Army was an opportunity for the Center to help improve literacy in the community.
“We’re always searching for opportunities to promote literacy and this seems like a real need we could help fill,” Hartman said. “When we got acquainted with the folks at the Salvation Army, we decided we really wanted to help. The kids that have been in and the families have been really excited to get these backpacks.”
Vickie Garrett, and her sister, Rebecca Franklin, both of Carthage, were on hand to pick up backpacks and supplies for their two daughters, ages 11 and 7.
Both said they were on monthly incomes, and the middle of the month is normally a lean time in their families.
“This means a lot because, if it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be able to afford anything,” Garrett said. “I’m on a monthly income and school starts right in the middle of the month and that’s tough, so this helps me out a lot.”
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s really tough,” Franklin added. “It takes a lot out of your budget because of all the stuff that they need for school, every year it’s different things. It’s hard, especially when you only get paid once a month.”
Cheryle Finley, vice president of the Family Literacy Board, said both groups hope this effort get the school year off to a good start for the children who receive the backpacks.
“We hope to provide a positive start to kids on the first day of school,” Finley said. “Kids are always excited to get new things so a new backpack and supplies should go over great. I think its great that they let the kids pick their backpacks.”
Mary Kirby, director of the Family Literacy Center, said this effort was all about opportunity.
“Every child deserves the same opportunity to learn,” she said. “And this will give them a great start.”