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More than 120 students receive backpacks from Catholic Charities

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Stores may advertise school supplies for pennies, but by the time a family makes all the required purchases, it can add up. For some, the cost is too much.

Arlington diocesan Catholic Charities provided 122 students — from preschool to high school — with backpacks filled with school supplies at Christ House in Alexandria Aug. 25.

In its second year, the school supply giveaway was made possible by donations to Christ House.

Ruth Guillen, emergency assistance senior case coordinator for Catholic Charities, came up with the idea last year after seeing many families with slim resources and school-aged children.

Guillen described the day’s event to the families before things began. It included a prayer service and snacks for the children and adults.  The names of families would be called individually to receive the backpacks. Once the children got their bags, they had their photo taken in front of a board that said “Back to School.”

“Volunteers put a lot of love in these backpacks,” said Guillen.

Bernadette Kamara’s three grandchildren received backpacks. The Alexandria family has received help from Catholic Charities for more than four years. Kamara is grateful.

“I thank God for the opportunity,” she said. “It is a blessing to be able to know (the staff and volunteers)and I pray that God will continue to bless them.”

Debbie Vitale volunteered to sort the school supplies into grade-specific backpacks.

“I know how important education is as a former teacher, and I know how expensive school supplies are for a lot of families,” she said. “I think by helping with backpacks and school supplies you can take stress off their minds as they are getting ready for school. They can really have a happy start to the school year.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017