Even more than freshly sharpened pencils or chalk-dusted erasers, the backpack might be the ultimate symbol of all things school. Just close your eyes and imagine a young child, waiting for the bus on the first day of school. Inevitably, they're wearing a backpack, right? Last week, my daughter picked out a small turtle-shaped backpack from Sharing the Dream and ever since has been marching around with it, announcing that she is off to school. She's years away from the real thing, but she's picked up on what that particular accessory means.
So what would it mean, then, to a child embarking on a new school year if they were missing that key piece of equipment? How would it affect their attitude about the coming educational adventure? And what if, on top of the backpack, they also lacked that unopened package of markers, that glue without any crust on the cap, that crisp new notebook without any pages torn out? These may all seem trivial to adults who have long gotten over the excitement of new office supplies, but to a child, it can be the difference between beginning a new grade with feelings of excitement and anticipation or with anxiety and pessimism.
That's what's so amazing about the Welcome Table's Back to School Backpack program, and why United Way of Vermillion is so proud to have them as a partner. They aren't just providing supplies — they're providing hope.
This year, the Back to School Backpack program gave away over two hundred backpacks full of school supplies to Vermillion students. That's more than two hundred children who started school this year with all of the tools they needed to get the most out of their education. More than two hundred who will look like every other kid walking to school or waiting for the bus, attired with a shiny new backpack, ready to take on the world.