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Local Non-Profit To Distribute 10,000 School Supply Kits To Area Children In Need Tuesday

b2si-1It has been a very difficult time for Chicago Public Schools recently. With Financial problems plaguing the system and major cuts effecting education and school programs, there is also intense pressure on families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Local non-profit Back To School Illinois (B2SI), wants to help ease the burden on Chicago area families as they prepare to get their children ready for the upcoming school year. On Tuesday, August 9, the organization will take over the Chicago Armory at 5917 N. Broadway in Edgewater in order to begin the process of distributing up to 30,000 school supply kits to local children in need in 2016.

With 10,000 kits containing over 350,000 school supplies to be distributed on Tuesday at the armory alone, B2SI is excited about carrying on their mission for the 12th straight year.  Matthew Kurtzman, CEO of B2SI said, “Our first year we gave out school supplies to less than 200 children. This year we will reach 150 times that number.” He continued,”We are very proud of the work of our organization but we have a long way to go if we want to provide school supplies to every child in Illinois that comes from a family, which struggles to afford them.”

With the school supplies program the main focus of the organization, the trucks which contain the kits will role into Edgewater around 8:30 a.m. Starting at 11 a.m., More than 400 YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs members ages 6-12 will gather at the armory to, according to a B2SI press release, ‘take part in numerous interactive activities and demonstrations that seek to encourage, inspire and educate the children in a fun-filled atmosphere.’

“Each child in a particular grade gets the same supplies as every other kid in his/her grade. We focus on giving each child the basic or core supplies they will need to succeed in the classroom,” said Kurtzman. “We make sure the kits get into the hands of the truly needy by working with over a dozen nonprofit and community organizations that work with the disadvantaged or children from low-income families.’

The list of community partners B2SI works with in order to get the job done is impressive. They include YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities, JCC Chicago, Operation Homefront (serving military families), Chicago’s Department of Family & Support Services – DFSS (children in homeless shelters), CPS, the Chicago Park District, and a number of others.

In order to provide additional resources to underserved children, B2SI also has a program that provides college scholarships and another called POWER UP! Boot Camp, which teaches children the importance of exercise and a proper diet. B2SI is currently the largest program of its kind in Illinois.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of doing this job is watching the expression on kid’s faces when you hand them a Back 2 School kit filled school supplies,” Explained Kurtzman. “They are generally so grateful, and you can see how good it makes them feel.”

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