Englewood students given backpacks full of school supplies ahead of new school year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students at Perkins Bass Elementary School in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood were given new backpacks full of school supplies Monday to prepare them for the new school year.

"I saw it and there was a gap between the lines, and I'm like, I'm gonna go here before anyone else gets to take it," said 11-year-old Tremyah Underwood, a 6th grader, about her new backpack.

Five hundred backpacks were handed out, one for each student in the school. The bags and supplies were donated by Chicago's Kimpton Gray Hotel and the Daisie Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports women and children.

"We just thought, why not help the kids?" said Dina Fenili-Niekamp, Kimpton Gray Hotel. "And they're so appreciative and grateful and we had so much fun in the process."

But there's an even greater purpose to the gesture; Principal Carolyn Jones said not having supplies hurts attendance on the first day of school.

"Parents don't want to send their children without what they need, and so this cuts down on some of the burden on those families and everyone gets to show up day one ready and prepared to start the school year," she said.

"It's a lot of people out here who can't afford to buy their kids things, and it's good that the community is showing that they're trying to give back to the students," said parent Tawana Harrington.

That's encouraging to 9-year-old Jordan Taylor, who picked out a red backpack. It's his grandmother's favorite color.

"I like reading, I like communicating with other students," he said.

When school starts next week, students will also be welcomed back with a brand new mural painted by local artist Jason Farley. Some students helped him paint it, and appear in the mural.
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