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DeKalb Salvation Army passes out 550 backpacks

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 4:34 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 4:36 p.m. CST
(Danielle Guerra –
Diana Hajek helps her daughter Jessica Hajek look at the school supplies in her new backpack Tuesday during the backpack distribution at the Salvation Army in DeKalb. Jessica will be in second grade this fall.

DeKALB – Although Michelle Graham was nervous for her first back-to-school supply drive, she thought it was a success in helping out her new community.

Graham and her husband, Keith, started as the DeKalb Salvation Army's pastors and officers in DeKalb on June 25, and Michelle Graham said Tuesday was her first time coordinating a school supply drive.

She said 258 DeKalb County families registered to pick up backpacks filled with school supplies from the Salvation Army, donated by local businesses, churches and other organizations. She was surprised by the good turnout, as registration had just opened last month.

"It's good that we can help them with the basic school supplies," she said. "Families may not be able to afford them, and if we can knock some items off their list, then maybe they can get P.E. shoes or other things they need."

To register to receive supplies, families provided some combination of a photo identification, birth certificates, medical cards and a letter indicating they qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches.

Travis Catalina, Salvation Army director of social services and volunteer coordinator, spent his third year working the supply drive at the Salvation Army, 830 Grove St. in DeKalb.

He said volunteers and employees spent about nine hours packing 550 backpacks filled with school supplies. Recipients of backpacks could also add crayons and other items to their bags if they had a child in kindergarten.

"Things have turned out really well," he said. "It's always nice to help."

Michelle Graham said work will begin in early spring to begin preparing for next year's drive.

"I think now that we have it under our belt, we know what we're doing," Michelle Graham said. "We're very happy with the turnout."

If you go

What: Back to school celebration. Every student who attends will receive a backpack filled with school supplies, free haircuts for children and free blood pressure checks for adults, bounce house, games, refreshments and more. Registration is not required.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Welsh Park on Russell Road in DeKalb

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