It was just a Hannah Montana backpack, but it made one 10-year-old girl proud on the first day of school. She received the backpack stuffed with her school supplies from the annual school kit program at the Ballard Community Center.
“This program allows me to send my children to school without being embarrassed,” said Rebecca Frasier, a mother of four. “She actually cried because she got a Hannah Montana backpack, so she thought she would be cool because she had the same things the other kids have.”
More stories like this one are what the school kit program is designed to achieve.
“(The children) walk in the school building on the first day of school, and they have new things too,” said Dianne Ensminger, CEO of Ballard Community Services. “It’s not a hand-me-down backpack or a torn backpack. They’re on the same page.”
The program has been providing school supplies to the children of Douglas County for the past 25 years. A total of 450 kits were given out last year.
“We’re expecting there to be a greater demand this year so we’re going to start taking applications earlier,” said Andy Brown, Ballard’s director of human services programs. ‘‘… We’ll try to help everybody that signs up.”
Anyone who wants to enroll in the program is asked to visit the Ballard Center, 708 Elm, bringing with them a photo identification, Social Security cards and proof of income. Brown also said anyone who receives free or reduced-priced lunches is eligible for the free school kits.
Ensminger said the agency is seeking grants to finance the program. “We are also asking donors to bring us school supplies off the Lawrence school supply list, which is available at most of the stores and also available on the Lawrence public schools Web site,” she said.
All donations can be dropped off at the center between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those who wish to donate money can send a check to Ballard Community Center, P.O. Box 7, Lawrence, KS 66044, with “school kit program” written on the memo line. For more information, call 842-0739.
The kits probably will be distributed the first week of August.