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Volunteers give away 1,200 backpacks full of school supplies to students in need

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CHICAGO — A community group from the suburbs is helping Chicago students prepare to go back to school with supplies and it’s an effort that’s grown considerably in just the last year.

At Nicholson Stem Academy in Englewood, dozens of volunteers put together 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies to give away to students.

This is the 4th year that the community service organization Who is Hussain has given away backpacks. This year, the organization nearly tripled the amount of Chicago Public School students being helped.

"These are going to students that for whatever reason cannot afford their own school supplies," Aquil Hussain, volunteer, said. "We see thousands of students who show up to their first day of school without the resources they need to make the most of this school year, so these will go to those students who can really use a little bit of an extra lift to make the most of their education and school year."

For Nicholson Stem Academy's Principal Mark Carson, this was something he was glad to host.

"The average income in Englewood is about $20,000 a year, so things like this, even though it seems very small, it helps tremendously," Carson said.

His students and hundreds of others from five Chicago Public Schools will get backpacks, crayons, pencils, folders, notebooks and rulers.

"This is going to prepare them to want to come back to school and sometimes in communities similar to Englewood, there’s a lot of doubt, but when people believe in those kids, then they’ll be excited to come back, start on time and do well in school," Carson said.

For volunteers with Who is Hussain, it’s about paying it forward to a generation, a community, with what they can do to help.

"If we’re able to educate these students and enable them to see the opportunities ahead of them, it opens doors that they may otherwise not have had," Hussain said.

The school supplies for a cause may allow some, perhaps, to write a new chapter in their future.

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