No single item costs more than five dollars, but once you add up all the materials that teachers require one middle school student to bring on his first day of school, it comes to roughly $50 per student.
“Some parents just aren’t able to afford that,” said Kurt Wallace, pastor of off Dale Boulevard. If students are unable to get all the necessary supplies, schools will try to compensate or just have the kids make do with what they can, he said. “But the kids feel ‘less than’ when they don’t have all the supplies they need.”
That is where Wallace and the FFC congregation are stepping in, by providing backpacks filled with all the required school items to 200 underprivileged kids from four different middle schools in the area.
Wallace said the idea for the project came after the church finished a spring raising money to build a well in a remote area of Kenya. “We did something far away, now we need to do something at home,” he said.
Wallace contacted some middle schools and found them excited about the idea. Four schools will each provide at least 50 kids to receive backpacks with supplies: , Saunders Middle School, Benton Middle School, and . “We chose middle schools because that is such an impressionable age for kids,” Wallace said. “We thought that could make the most difference.” He also said that if they come down to it and there are more kids who can’t afford supplies, they won’t be turned away.
FFC also partnered with an organization called Beyond the Walls, which will be doing the same thing for an additional four schools in Prince William County: Potomac Middle School, Graham Park Middle School, Rippon Middle School, and Fred Lynn Middle School.
The church is inviting local businesses and community members to get involved with their project. They need to either collect or buy around $10,000 worth of supplies. Several businesses have already donated gift cards toward the cause and cupboards in the FFC building are seeing the first buildup of supplies.
The supplies will be delivered before the first day of school, which is right after Labor Day. But Wallace said they will continue to receive donations up until Sept. 18 in case there are still any needs left to meet. On Sept. 18, FFC will celebrate its ninth anniversary and hopes to do so in conjunction with one of the schools that it is helping and give a final donation as the culmination of the project.
He said he hopes this project will open the doors for other ways to get involved in the kids’ lives and build relationships with their families—perhaps in the form of a mentor program, helping instill hope, build character, and further uplift the kids in the community.
A donor has already given all the backpacks needed and a bible to go in each one. FFC’s upcoming Vacation Bible School will also encourage the attending children to bring school supplies to donate. Furthermore, the church will hold a concert on September 16 in which the “admission fee” will be donations for the school children.
But there are still many supplies left to collect in the remaining weeks of August.
Anyone can drop off supplies or gift cards at the . Wallace has also researched places to get some of the supplies in bulk to help bring costs down, so monetary donations are also welcome.
Here are some of the supplies that students will need. For a complete updated list, contact the church:
Binder - 3 ring 1”
Binder - 3 ring 1.5”
Crayons - 16 in a box
Binder - 3 ring 2”
Dividers - 5 section , multi-color
Calculator - 4 function
College ruled lined paper - 150 sheets
Folders - one pocket
Folders - two pocket, no brads
Highlighters – 5 pieces in a set
Graph paper – loose leaf
Ink Pens, blue and black
Graph paper – tablet
Pencils #2 - 12 pack
Rulers (clear preferred) w/centimeters and inches
Zippered pencil case
Marbles composition notebooks