SPOKANE, Wash – Remember being a kid and picking out your favorite backpack and all of your school supplies as you geared up for the start of school? For thousands of kids in Spokane County that's simply not an option, and that's why the Salvation Army wants to help.
Beginning at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning at the Salvation Army office at 222 East Indiana Avenue, 4,100 backpacks will be given out – chock full of age-appropriate school supplies, determined by lists generated by Spokane Public Schools.
"It's like Christmas for these kids, if you look at these super cute backpacks, this is probably every little kids dream is to show up on the first day of school proud of what they have on their shoulder," Salvation Army's Sheila Geraghty told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.
The point is to not only help children from families in need get prepared for the school year, but also to ensure it's done in a way where they feel proud, and will fit in with their classmates with the latest Cinderella or Spiderman backpack.
"The need grows more every year, and every year more people find out about the services of the Salvation Army," Geraghty added. "Last year we gave away 3,700 backpacks, and this year we're prepared to give out 4,100, and I bet these will all be gone by 3:00 or 4:00 tomorrow afternoon."
The project takes $40,000 in donations and sponsorships, 300 volunteers and essentially a week of stuffing the bags, and they're all gone in a matter of hours. But it's all worth it to see the smiles on the kids faces when they get them – not only for the organizers and volunteers, but also the parents.
"They get excited, it's kind of like Christmas, they appreciate it," mother Misty Carson said of her two boys, ages 11 and 14. "I don't have a job right now, so it means a whole lot, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do that for my sons."
Carson will be one of the thousands of parents lined up Friday morning.
Anyone is welcome to come; the only requirement is that you live in Spokane County. Parents need to bring their photo ID, a form of identification for their school-age child, and proof of address.
There will also be a resource fair including health screenings, dental care and books.