Barbecue helps Utah families in need prepare for back to school

Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 20:12:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of families had a little extra help shopping for their children’s back-to-school supplies and necessities on Thursday morning.

Valley Behavioral Health saw a need among their patients’ families who were heading back to school.

The team at Valley Behavioral Health organized a Back-to-School BBQ with other local organizations and agencies, like the local fire and police departments and REAL Salt Lake.

They worked together to get 166 backpacks filled with school supplies. They also collected 122 new pairs of shoes and plenty of pencils, markers, folders and binders. The barbecue also offered free haircuts.

“What we found is that children, when they start school, they aren't just automatically ready for school,” said Susan Pizits, Valley Behavioral Health Children’s Services Director. “Many don't have shoes to start school; for example, one in five kids don't have school shoes, according to national data. We have found that kids that don't have shoes, they aren't ready academically, socially, emotional, and also athletically to join in with their peers.”

Parents not only found new shoes and backpacks, but also hygiene products, like shampoo, body wash, deodorant, tooth brushes and toothpaste.

Mother Julie Cheever said her family struggles financially because of medical costs associated with caring for one of her children.

“It's extremely helpful for me at this time because I'm not able to work with Drew's disability,” Cheever said.

Her son Drew has spina bifida.

“They need new school supplies, new shoes, new clothes, and if you're in a charter school, like we are, they need specific clothes and it gets pricey,” explained Cheever.

She said it costs her between $300 and $400 per child each new school year.

Valley Behavioral Health plans to make this an annual BBQ. If you’re interested in donating next year or volunteering, click here. You will find a phone number to contact their team.