Salvation Army helps outfit kids in need with back to school necessities

Posted at 6:13 PM, Aug 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-23 23:45:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some students in Salt Lake City will be heading back to school with new backpacks thanks the Salvation Army’s back to school rally.

The event was held Saturday in Salt Lake City, and nearly 200 kids were given backpacks filled with school supplies.

“I’m excited because it’s pretty boring at home,” said Samantha Suljic, who is a 5th grade student at Mountain View Elementary School.

Free food, free games, and free school supplies were the perfect way to get kids excited about heading back to school.

Saturday morning, families came out to the Salvation Army’s annual back to school rally- an event geared toward helping parents in need get their kids ready for a new school year.

Troy Trimmer, Salvation Army Salt Lake City, said they received support from a variety of places.

“Yea, it’s a time when people struggle, which is why it’s great to live in a community like this,” he said. “ShopKo stores have helped us out, community people, people from the community have come through and purchased supplies, we’ve had various donations from many different places. This community reaches out and says, ‘We understand things are tough but we are in this together.’”

In years prior, kids would line up collect their school supplies and be on their way. This year was a little bit different. Kids had to participate in the activities to get the main giveaway--200 backpacks were stuffed with school supplies like new crayons, notebooks and pencils.  Salvation Army officials said they’ve been doing the event for nearly a decade in an effort to lighten the burden back to school can bring to some parents.

“It almost felt mechanical and impersonal,” Trimmer said of the old way the event was carried out. “So we switched to this type of event. It can be a little more personal.  Kids can enjoy the process instead of just receiving something they may need because of financial situations.”.

FOX 13 News checked on the price of backpacks from a few local stores like ShopKo, Wal-Mart, and Target. Backpacks can set you back anywhere from 10 to 50 bucks.  Add in notebooks, glue, pencils and all the other necessities and you'd be lucky to make it out the door for less than $40, and that’s assuming of course that you only have one child to buy for.

“It’s actually really helpful, you know, they’re giving backpacks for the kids supplies so I’m happy that I’m able to get help with that,” said mother of three Heydy Melgar.

Shopko stores donated most of the supplies, but some were also donated by members in the community. This year the campaign distributed more than 1,400 donated items to benefit local children in need.