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School backpack drive expanded to Cairo-Durham

August 24, 2018 03:25 pm Updated: August 24, 2018 03:45 pm

One year after a successful backpack drive in the Greenville School District, the program will be extended to the Cairo-Durham Central School District.

The drive involves filling backpacks with school supplies for any student who needs them, said Will Von Atzingen of Foresters Financial Services, Inc., which is helping to provide funds for the project.

“Every kid’s getting pens, pencils, erasers — the essential stuff,” Von Atzingen said.

By means of scholarships, Foresters contributes to education locally and across the nation. Each year, the company offers 250 tuition scholarships up to $2,000 to eligible students pursuing post-secondary education at an accredited university, community college or trade program, according to Foresters website.

The drives are scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 28 in the Cairo-Durham High School cafeteria and 9 a.m. Aug. 29 at the Greenville Middle School cafeteria at 9 a.m., Von Atzingen said.

Each school district will receive $2,000 worth of supplies. Round Top Knit & Screening Inc. will help to provide personalized backpacks emblazoned with the Greenville and Cairo-Durham school district logos.

“We’re going to look to make 150 bags per district,” Von Atzingen said. “The kids can get some identity. They can feel like they’re part of something from day one.”

No student will be turned away if they request a backpack, Von Atzingen said.

Von Atzingen first wanted to be involved with the Greenville backpack drive after he learned 35 percent of students in the school district live below the poverty line.

“I thought that was pretty shocking — kids, they can’t really help themselves. They’re brought into this world,” Von Atzingen said. “We’re third generation in the town of Greenville and we’re very much involved in community give-back activities.”

Von Atzingen reached out to Cairo-Durham High School Guidance Counselor Justin Karker about bringing the program to the district and Karker agreed to it, Von Atzingen said.

Looking beyond the backpack drive, Von Atzingen next wants to hand out hygiene kits for middle and high school students and then get the Greenville Food Pantry involved, he said.

“I’m going to plan more drives,” he said.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.