Equipping U.S. children for success in a new school year

In partnership with our corporate donors, World Vision works to provide basic school supplies to American children whose families are struggling to make ends meet because of natural disasters or the rough economy.

Story and photos by Laura Reinhardt, World Vision U.S.
Published August 3, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

When a catastrophic tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011, many families were left with nothing at all — including basic resources for their children.

Collisha Rauch and her family were among those severely affected. Their house suffered roof damage as the wind whisked away shingles and the golfball-sized hail punched holes in their skylights.

Her parents, who lived right behind St. Joseph’s Hospital, which suffered extensive damage in the storm, lost their home. They spent two months living in a hotel.

“We were out of jobs temporarily. My husband had lost his job right before the tornado hit,” says Collisha. “So he’s finding a part-time job. We have three children, and we can spend a couple hundred [dollars] in school supplies just for the bare basics.”

So when a World Vision backpack distribution came to Joplin, the family was excited — and thankful. Collisha was moved to tears.

‘Overwhelmed with generosity’

She picked up three backpacks filled with school supplies for her children, including 6-year-old Alli, who came with her.

“We’re just overwhelmed with generosity,” says Collisha. “I’m just so grateful, because that means I can put [the cost of school supplies] toward electricity or toward a house payment.”

The night before the backpack distribution, as the kids thought about their backpacks, they talked about the excitement of getting ready for school, seeing friends, and having a brand-new backpack for that first day.

Alli, 6, and her mother, Collisha, receive backpacks being unloaded from a truck in Joplin, Missouri, in August 2011.It may seem like a minor thing to some people, but for a 6-year-old whose life has been turned upside-down, it’s a genuine blessing, says Collisha.

“It has been so difficult lately,” says Collisha. “We’re just really grateful.”

Bringing hope in the midst of tough times

Collisha’s family was put into a difficult position by a natural disaster. But as the U.S. economy continues to struggle, many other Americans face major challenges with paying the bills and making ends meet. Additional expenses like school supplies for children can compound their difficulties.

World Vision’s corporate partners donate top-quality items, such as backpacks, pens, pencils, books, videos, games, sports equipment, and other educational materials. World Vision then coordinates distributions of these items for families in need in communities across the United States.

As many American children prepare to return to class in the next month, World Vision invites its supporters to join these efforts to help students be equipped for success at school — even in the midst of challenging times.

Learn more

Read a blog post about a church that partnered with World Vision to assemble backpacks with school supplies for local students in need.

Three ways you can help

Please pray for children and families right here in the United States who struggle to make ends meet and have difficulty affording basic items like school supplies.

Make a one-time donation to help provide school supplies to U.S. children in need as a new school year begins. Combined with corporate contributions, your gift will multiply to help deliver essential items like pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, crayons, glue, rulers, videos, educational games, and more.

Consider signing up your church or group to participate in assembling backpacks and school supplies through World Vision’s SchoolTools program. We’ll arrange to have the supplies shipped directly to your location, and once your event is completed, we’ll work with you to coordinate distribution of the items.