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Charity brings CPS kids boxes of free school supplies

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CHICAGO -- You remember the excitement when you got a new pack of markers and crisp folders for the start of the school year?

That was the feeling thousands of kids experienced Wednesday thanks to the charity, "Back 2 School Illinois."

School supplies are back lining store shelves already, but for many families, getting their kids the things they need for the classroom is nearly impossible. One charity is determined to see that every kid starts off right.

It took four semi trucks and a forklift to move the 15,000 Back 2 School kits packed in boxes. The supply kits stacked higher than the heads of most of the volunteers who showed up to give Chicago school kids the start they deserve.

"It would've been nice for me for having this growing up so for me to have the opportunity to give it back to other children in the same position--is something I like doing," said Prassan Patel, a volunteer with Back 2 School Illinois.

For the 1.2 million Illinois school kids living in low-income households, the basic supplies aren't always in the budget, leaving them walking in the first day empty handed.

"It's not just the actual supplies we give them that matters, but it's actually that self esteem aspect of does it feel  if they have to borrow from a neighbor or ask the teacher," said Matthew Kurtzman, CEO, Back 2 School Illinois.

Inside each one of the boxes, nearly $50 worth of school supplies and a hand written note from those who have been there.

"The volunteers and whoever donated the school supplies and's a blessing, they're here to help the kids," said Karen Gillespie.

Every one of these kits was handed out today and the kids receiving them tickled with what they found inside.

"I'm gonna put all my papers in my folders and i'm gonna use my pencils for writing and use my erasers if I make a mistake," said Jordan Jones, CPS Student.

For many of these kids, having new school supplies was a first, and they were eager to share with other classmates.

"It's the first day of school and you get to share with your friends if they don't have some and you have extra," said 8-year-old Nhi Lee, CPS Student.

This is the 12th year that the charity, "Back 2 School Illinois" has provided these kids, dramatically changing the first day back for students across Chicagoland.  For more information on the charity, visit their website at

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