Lesson in generosity: project fills backpacks

MOLINE — Children may not be able to discuss the fine points of what constitutes a recession, but they know when economic times are tough. Many will feel it in the days ahead when they go back to school with backpacks that could use a few more supplies.

That’s not the case at Seton Catholic School, however, thanks to the First Day Fund of Sacred Heart Junior Court 956 of the National Catholic Society of Foresters.

The fraternal insurance organization has been working with members of Sacred Heart Parish, where the school is located; the Social Action Committee at Christ the King Parish, also in Moline; and one or two “angels” to make sure 66 Seton students will be ready to “unpack your backpack” with classmates on Aug. 19. The new academic year is set to begin with half-day classes on Aug. 21.

Each of the 30 teachers at Seton also benefit from the First Day Fund, which provides bags of needed supplies for their classrooms and the offices of the elementary school and junior high school buildings, according to coordinators Connie Morris and Chris Adams.

“I think the economy is having a big influence,” said Adams, who noted that requests for assistance jumped by 20 over last fall. “We’re seeing a lot more families this year.”

“It’s hard for them. It’s been a tough year,” Morris told The Catholic Post.

“It’s tough to pay tuition and then you have the book fee and supplies,” she said. “Maybe they can afford the tuition because they get a little extra help at the beginning of the year. I’m not going to judge — everybody needs help once in awhile.”

When Sacred Heart Junior Court 956 started the First Day Fund, members helped 15 or 16 students. They bought the school supplies and backpacks with money raised through a series of car washes, bake sales and other events.

As the number of requests grew, junior court members decided to ask Sacred Heart parishioners to help by “adopting” students at the end of June. They are never told who they’re buying for, just the child’s grade, gender and what supplies are needed.

Brought to Sacred Heart at the end of July, the backpacks are taken to Morris’ house in Coal Valley. She and Adams verify that all the supplies on the list are present and fill in whatever may be missing.

The backpacks for the children, classroom supplies for the teachers, and office supplies are returned to Seton the week before school begins.

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