co-staff-web-tracy-parlin-2Our 2gether for Kids initiative is doing more than just providing much-needed school supplies for students and teachers in need, it’s building relationships in our community.  Our Schoolzone Store—which we host at our Family Center in early WEB-580x245-MendenhallAugust—began out of relationship that Chase Oaks has been building with our partner Mendenhall Elementary over the years. We desired to provide a place for families with kids in need to come and shop for their own backpacks and school supplies at an affordable price, thereby bringing dignity to charity and giving ownership back to the families to provide school supplies for their kids.

schoolzone-supplieslinedupEach school year in late May, we go to the counselor at Mendenhall Elementary and ask her to hand out flyers to those families that they know struggle financially to provide the necessary supplies for their children.  The families that are interested fill out the form, turn it in, and we contact them with a date to shop at our Schoolzone Store at the Family Center. There they are able to purchase all of the supplies they need for the school year along with their backpack for just $5.  And that wouldn’t be possible without the generous donations from Chase Oakers, who donate enough school supplies to provide not only for Mendenhall families in need, but also for many other local schools and teachers!KidsWithSupplies

The incredible result of this is that we get to see kids who might otherwise have been embarrassed about not having all the supplies they need to start school, instead brimming with excitement and confidence in knowing that they have everything they need just like any other kid.

SchoolZoneVolunteeringOne mom last year gave extra money and wanted it to go to the next person at the store who wasn’t able to cover the cost. She said she was so thankful for what they were able to do for their family that they wanted to pass it on.  We also have had people come back and serve at our Schoolzone Store after they have come to purchase their supplies.  Last year, many kids came up to check in and brought their own $5, sharing stories of how they were able to save and pay with their own money. I know this was a proud moment for them and their families.

dna-icons-not-alone-smlThis year we have broadened our scope and are not only serving about 200 Mendenhall students and the teachers, but have also  reached out to Agape Center, Emily’s Place and Family Promise — all neighboring partner organizations serving the homeless.  Children in their programs will also have the opportunity to shop at Schoolzone.  In addition, we are inviting businesses in the area to partner with us in our 2gether for Kids initiative, because 2gether we really can make a difference!  This speaks into our DNA that we don’t go it alone.  We are excited to be a part of this again this year and a part of making a difference 2gether in the next generation!