School may not look the same this year, but kids still have the same needs. With that in mind, Compassion Katy returns on August 1 at the Merrell Center with their 4th annual Operation Back 2 School event, this time with a twist.
“This year’s event will be an outdoor, drive-thru experience,” said Executive Director Jennifer Hart. “We’re doing everything we can to make it a fun day for families and an opportunity for them to access services that will give them more peace of mind when it comes to school costs.”
Started in 2017 at Sundown Elementary, Operation Back 2 School has served increasing numbers each year. In 2020, it is meeting the back-to-school needs at all 18 Title 1 schools in Katy. While much of the focus is on providing backpacks and all necessary school supplies for an entire year, the event is also an opportunity to spread goodwill and much needed information to low-income families.
“We have the police department and the fire department there to greet families and hand out supplies,” explained Hart. “We want kids to see the police and fire fighters as helpers and friends, not people to fear. This is an opportunity for the kids to get to know the people who are protecting them within their community.”
Although the day will look much different this year as everyone observes Covid restrictions, the same services and resources will be available to parents, some of whom are homeless and in desperate need of help. Parents will get access to information about clothing programs, immunizations, food pantries, social services, and free haircuts. Prayer partners from Grace Fellowship Church will be available to pray over families in their cars. Chick-fil-A and Whataburger will be handing out coupons. Parents can even sign up for free financial classes.
“We’re not going to let Covid keep us from doing this. The kids still have the need and look forward to this event. Our main concern is serving the families but keeping them safe at same time,” Hart said.
Even after the event ends, Compassion Katy continues working, delivering more supplies and backpacks to schools to take care of any additional, new registrations. At least 3,000 families are served each year through this program. As Hart said, “We not only want to provide these services, but we want to treat families with dignity. We want a transformation of the heart, to make a true difference in their lives.”
Most families pay over $100 a year on backpacks and school supplies for their children. Compassion Katy works with distributors and buys in bulk, keeping their costs to about $50 per child. If you would like to sponsor one or more children for the year or make a donation, simply click on this link compassionkaty.org/sponsor . If you’d like to volunteer to help with the Operation Back 2 School event, contact Jennifer Hart directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hart described her passion for this project. “We want our kids to start school on the same playing level as their friends. If you have needs, you’re already at a deficit. No one should have anxiety about supplies on the first day of school. We seek to lift the financial burden from families.”