Back 2 School Illinois holds school supplies giveaway

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018
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Many parents got some help Wednesday as one of the city's biggest school supply giveaways was held in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students got their hands on brand new school supplies in one of the biggest giveaways in the city Wednesday morning.

The group behind the giveaway is Back 2 School Illinois. Several organizations from throughout Chicago are also getting supply kits to take back for their kids.

The excitement to go back to school was building at the Broadway Armory in the Edgewater neighborhood.

"My name is Ethan and I'm excited for school because I like doing work and I like learning a lot and I get to see my friends and my new teacher," said Ethan Truong.

Back 2 School Illinois is giving about 400 students the supplies they need. Wednesday morning, kids ages 6 through 12 gathered to pick them up. They came from the YMCA of Metro Chicago, The Boys and Girls Club and the Vietnamese Association of Illinois.

"As much as we're growing every year, the demand is far outstripping the supply and it's not just obviously a local thing, it's something that is nationwide," said Matthew Kurtzman, CEO of Back 2 School Illinois.

This is Back 2 School Illinois' largest school supply distribution event of the year. Fifty plus YMCA full service sites will get the supply kits.

Over 14,000 of them are filled with more than 420,000 school supplies. They were trucked into the Broadway Armory Wednesday morning to be sorted and passed out.

"They've just really focused on this issue and really brought it to light more than I think it was 15 years ago," said Linda Dean, director of volunteerism for the YMCA of Chicago.

For over a decade, Back 2 School Illinois' mission has been to ensure that students in need have the tools to begin the school year.

"It's not just about the supplies themselves, the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, but it's also really the self-esteem component, knowing that there's somebody out there that's looking out for them," Kurtzman said. "Someone that actually cares about them."

Organizers said they are on track to pass out about 40,000 kits. They are giving out 10,000 Wednesday.

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