By Brianna Stephens
Despite COVID-19, Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) Family Advocacy Program worked to help prepare students for in-person and virtual learning by sponsoring its annual school supply distribution. CAP was able to provide a total of 250 backpacks and school supplies to Family Resource Centers in Floyd (100), Johnson (100), and Knott (50) Counties.
“Our School Readiness Program will help families who do not have the means to purchase these items due to financial strains,” said Patricia Griffith, manager of CAP’s Family Advocacy Program in Johnson, Floyd, and Martin Counties. “The supplies will help students be prepared for this school year.”
Through Family Advocacy, CAP provides relief to families who have been impacted by different emergencies, such as fires, floods, low income, desertion, abuse, homelessness, and illness. Each day the program provides relief with utility disconnects and evictions, as well as provides hygiene products, cleaning products, clothing, household goods, and referrals to other resources that may be able to further help participants. Family Advocacy hosts two major distributions each year - the School Readiness Program, which provides school supplies and other necessities for students, and the Christmas Basket/Christmas Store Program, which provides families with Christmas presents for their children.
“The pandemic has caused a lot of stress and has greatly impacted our region financially, as it has in other regions,” Griffith added. “People have been laid off during the pandemic and reached out to us because they needed food, clothing, or other household items. Most families are not accustomed to their children being home this long and not attending school, so it has placed a financial strain on their budgets.”
COVID-19 restrictions also meant that contact with families who participate in the School Readiness Program has been limited to phone calls rather than one-on-one interactions. Families were not sure what to plan for as school district schedules were up in the air, but CAP still wanted to help. “CAP knew it was important to find a way to help families who would particularly need help this year with school supplies,” Griffith said.
Instead of giving to families directly, CAP reached out to the Johnson, Floyd, and Knott County Family Resource Centers, coordinated a drop off point, and delivered the supplies. Students received a donation of pencils and books by Nina Petro and supplies from CAP’s Operation Sharing Program.
“The backpacks and supplies normally make a child excited about going to school,” Griffith added. “We are glad that we were able to partner with the resource centers who were overjoyed to have supplies on hand when the children return to school,” Griffith said. “It makes us excited too to be able to put a smile on a child’s face.”