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Catholic Charities gives free school supplies and backpacks

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One-hundred and thirteen children will begin the school year with a backpack loaded with school supplies. For the third year in a row, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (CCDA) held a school supply giveaway for children age five to 17 Aug. 24 at Christ House in Alexandria.


The morning began with a prayer service led by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, and the families attending were fed. Then, family by family, each child was invited to receive a personalized backpack with school supplies specific to their grade, a Payless shoe store gift card for the first day of school, snacks, and water. Bishop Burbidge and Art Bennett, Catholic Charities president and CEO, distributed the backpacks.


“We really care about these families who come to Christ House,” said Bennett. “This event makes a real difference for them. And it brings children and parents — and us — a lot of joy. We want to help parents help their kids feel excited about school and ready to go right out of the gate. That happens here.”


“It means a lot. We’re going through a tough time right now,” said Lashay Bailey, who attended the event with her seven children. “And to get the backpacks and the gift cards for the shoes … it’s a blessing,” she said. Bailey lives in Fredericksburg.


The backpacks were prepared meticulously by volunteers. A child entering the 12th grade received a three-ring binder, three spiral notebooks, a protractor, ballpoint pens, subject dividers and more. A child beginning first grade received crayons, glue sticks, a pencil pouch, scissors, notebooks, washable Crayola, markers, pencils, colored pencils and more.


“You spend so much for everything and, as a single mom, it’s hard to also pay for these supplies,” said Junice Talbert, a mother of three. “The prayers help a lot sometimes; it’s really stressful.”


She came to get a backpack for her 5-year-old son who starts kindergarten this fall.


The Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria and individual donors provided the backpacks and supplies, gift cards and snacks through donations to Christ House, the St. Lucy Food Project and the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP). Volunteers came from each of those groups, among others. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018