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The Salvation Army is helping 500 kids gear up for the new school year

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– The commercials have officially started again, and though summer continues on, parents are starting to prepare to bring their children back to school.

But this year, with the costs of supplies going up, The Salvation Army is helping 500 children gear up for the new school year, and they say this year, parents need the help more than ever.

“This year, even more so than many in the past, families are really dependent on the assistance for helping get their kids back to school.” said Major Annette Lock, the Director of Operations at The Salvation Army, “Everything costs more and it makes it much more difficult for them to balance the everyday needs of the household and to have extra income for those things that children need to go back to school–we are happy to help with that.”

Every year, the Salvation Army has their backpack distribution to help children from around Western New York, return to the classroom fully prepared and confident.

“When a kid walks into school and they have everything they need that the teacher is going to ask for, it’s going to give them confidence.” said James McNeil, The Salvation Army’s Youth Empowerment Director, “Simple things like that can make a kid confident on the first day of school, to be like ‘I got this’, ‘I’m not worried’, ‘I can make new friends’–it just builds their character.”

On Friday, The Salvation Army wrapped up their summer programs, with their annual Summer Carnival, which this year they focused on helping children have fun, in light of recent events in Buffalo.

“Kids need their freedom to develop and express their selves and programs like this allow them to do different things so that way they can sort of escape the things that are outside the doors of The Salvation Army.” said McNeil.

The summer consisted of field trips, hearing community guests come in and speak, and on Friday a carnival with bounce houses, hot dogs and fun activities to enjoy. 60 campers, from grades K-12, received backpacks at the end of the celebration, with the help of donations from Bills player, Micah Hyde’s “Imagine for Youth” foundation.

“This is awesome, because the community definitely needs that because there are a lot of people struggling, especially given recent events.” said Naomie Jean-Pierre, the aunt of Omar Hererra, who attended the camp. “It’s good to do things like this with the community where we can engage with each other, and just let kids be kids.”

The Salvation Army has more events coming up to help giveaway these backpacks. For anyone who is interested in receiving a backpack, or needs assistance with school supplies, the Salvation Army encourages them to call 1 (716) 883-9800, and ask for Lisa.

For more information regarding The Salvation Army, including more information on their after school programs, head to their website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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