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HELP for Kids Going Back to School

Rita Richardson

Posted on July 18 2019

Every year, after all the fun and excitement of the 4th of July I see the calendar flip to July 5th and I hang my head and begin to mourn:   "That's it--summer's over...time to prepare for the long winter".

Even though I know it's not true and there’s still some fun to be squeezed out between now and the first snow somehow I still can't shake those dreaded feelings that change is in the air.

During the second half of summer I start to think about how soon it'll be getting dark earlier, the sound of cicadas will be deafening at sunset and it's time to get ready to go back to school---even though school hasn't been a part of my life for more years than I'd like to admit.

In all those thoughts about the change from summer to fall there is one happy memory--the fun of shopping for new school supplies.  You see, I love love love to be prepared and to organize.  The Container Store is my idea of retail heaven.  If I had to pick a place to spread my ashes when I die it might just be their kitchen storage section.  

Even as a young girl I loved how everything at the beginning of school was perfect. The year ahead was a white canvas with so many possibilities.  It was an exciting time and filled with hope.

I loved going to the store and picking my favorite color of notebooks when the metal spiral is still perfectly coiled, and the pages are snowy white.  The struggle to choose just the right folders whose patterns and designs reflected my personality and style.  The untouched box of pencils with their perfect erasers just aching to correct every mistake.

I'd bring everything home and lay each item out on the kitchen table then layer them into my new book bag.  If I'm honest there's probably a little obsessive-compulsive behavior in there as well, since I might have done this "packing" a few times just to be sure I had everything I needed and everything was situated just right.  

It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to get everything I needed.  I was never told I had to go without or choose only one.  I didn't know how fortunate I was.

Today over 15 million kids in America live in extreme poverty.  21 million rely on free school lunches because it might be the only meal they get in a day.  Even worse almost 2 million kids are homeless which means the combination of all of these statistics paints a bleak for too many children.  Too many good parents in this country have to choose between food and paper and pencils.  

All too often these kids, just as eager as I was, come to class without anything to help them learn.  If they're lucky they might have a teacher who will use their own money to try to keep their students on track.  Not having the right tools and being unprepared results in poor performance which starts a downward slide and leaves children without hope for a future they deserve.

When I hear all of this I get completely overwhelmed.  I feel like anything I could do would be like adding a drop of water into the ocean.  But then I hear God reminding me that that spirit is not from Him but rather it's evil—strategically designed to paralyze me from action.  

Taking care of children should be the easiest thing we do and it shouldn't matter whose children they are or where they're from because at some point it's not about them it's about US.  If we believe in Christ, then we live by grace.  We didn't earn it.  We've done nothing to deserve it.  We have an obligation to share.

Last back to school, Jill and I helped Feed the Children distributing food to some of the poorest families in Chicago for the first week of school.  One young father approached me with his 6-year-old son and asked if we had any school supplies.  As I told him we didn’t have anything like that his son's eyes filled with tears.  That little boy was so excited to start school the right way, but disappointment quickly overtook his joy.
 
After that experience we at FashionXFaith made a commitment to help.  We made a connection with BooksFirstChicago a non-profit organization working to help homeless and underprivileged kids get the leg up they need to be successful in school.  With their help to distribute we plan to buy and fill 50 backpacks with needed supplies for kids. 

We are donating 30% of all profits from our sales between now and August 30th.  If you’d like to donate directly to BooksFirstChicago that’s great, too, just go to BooksFirstChicago.org.

Maybe we can’t change the whole world today but together we can make a difference in a child’s life and give them the opportunity to be the best they can be.  

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