Backpack Drive Provides Athens School Students with Needed Items

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ATHENS, Ohio – Backpacks filled with school supplies, hygiene products, and clothing lined the sidewalks of Howard Park on Tuesday. The donations came after OHIO Greek-life students put out the call for items to support children whose families aren’t able to provide essential needs.

The drive began at noon on Tuesday – by 2:00 p.m., more than 50 backpacks and hundreds of other items found their way to Howard Park where the items were collected.

The book-bag drive was the first time the Greek-life students have worked together with Athens County Children Services on a community a service program.

Book Bag Drive, Howard Park

Sydney Porter, Vice President of Finance for the Women’s Panhellenic Association, and an Athens native, said she knows first-hand what it’s like to watch her friends go to school without school supplies or proper clothing.

“It is so important to start your school education correctly by having your backpack, pencils, markers, and crayons,” she said. “Having the right supplies will allow students to feel more confident and not feel excluded from the rest of the school.”

Anna Dirda of the Women’s Panhellenic Association said the group collaborated with Athens County Children Services this year following the Greek-Week theme: “Not All Superheroes Wear Capes.”

While the book-bag drive generated a solid response, Robin Webb, Public Relations and Event Coordinator of ACCS, said there are other ways to help those living below the poverty line such as learning how to approach difficult situations as child abuse and neglect.

Poverty in Athens County

Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

Athens County Children Services works to keep local children safe and families strong by assisting those in need.  Webb said over the course of a year, ACCS assisted between 140-180 high-risk children dealing with severe poverty, child abuse and neglect.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures, one in six people in Appalachian Ohio, which includes Athens County, live beneath the poverty line. The Census Bureau reports that more than 24 percent of families living in Athens County receive public assistance, compared with 6.3 percent who are living above the poverty live.

ACCS’s Webb said many more families in Athens County qualify for other services.

“Sixty-five percent of families in Athens County qualify for free or reduced lunches at schools,” she said. “This percentage is a pretty good indicator of our poverty levels.”