“The program enables at-risk children in our county to be able to start school on a level playing field with all the other children. It also shows that somebody cares about them,” Terry Terrell, co-director of BGKC, said.
Last year the hundreds of volunteers from the city and county school systems, nonprofits, local churches, businesses, and state and local agencies raised more than $21,000 to support the initiative. During the one-day event that required months of planning, 1,700 students were assisted and an additional 300 bags were given to the school systems to supplement the needs of children on the first day of school.
Executive Director of Bartow Collaborative Tina Grubbs said, “[This is necessary because] combined, Cartersville and Bartow County schools have identified 629 students who qualify as homeless. According to Georgia Kids Count, 10,730 Bartow County students, 58 percent, qualify for free and reduced lunch, compared to Georgia’s rate of 57.4 percent. The 2010 U.S. Census reports 11 percent of Bartow County families live in poverty. Of those, 13 percent were 18 years of age and under.”
Volunteers still are needed for the one-day event, which usually requires the help of 300 volunteers. The school supplies still in demand are three-ring binders and notebook paper.
“We strongly encourage civic organizations, churches and vacation bible schools who would like to participate to hold school-supply drives. It would be so helpful if they could ask for items like pencils, glue sticks, pens and paper. It would be best for anyone wishing to donate to call the number listed on our website to coordinate a drop-off,” Grubbs said.
While the overall mission of BGKC remains consistent, some aspects of the event have changed this year.
“First and foremost is the change in location of the event. This year’s event will be held at the Bartow College and Career Academy, the old Cass High School. ... This location not only provides more space for the event but also exposes the families and kids to future additional schooling and careers. This year we have new 3300 health forms that require more extensive analysis of the child’s existing conditions. We will be adding supporting volunteers to expedite the forms required by the school system, [which] include physicians and nurses.
“A new and improved resource-vendor center will be available to all the families. This center will help provide information concerning even more resources that are available. We have created a Facebook page and improved our website as well. We are also working on providing some motivational-type events such as a karate exhibition.”
Parents, grandparents and child-care providers can register students on the website through July 12. The Bartow County Library System has computers available for those without access to the Internet. The website contains a sign-up page for volunteers as well.
Two-hundred-fifty students have already been registered. Grubbs said the registration numbers are typical for this time of year and the sign-ups usually increase in July.
The program is the product of a collaboration of many organizations throughout Bartow County.
“The actual county-wide school supply distribution started in the early 1990s and has gained momentum over the years,” Grubbs said. “In 2008, Life Scout Miles Terrell took this initiative even further by introducing Give a Kid a Chance, a national program designed to provide free assistance to children struggling in school. As a part of his Eagle Scout project, Miles presented the project to the Cartersville City and Bartow County school systems and soon, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance was embraced by local churches, Northwest Georgia Community Foundation, United Way of Bartow County, and many corporate partners, businesses and individuals. Bartow Collaborative helps to support the effort in serving as the fiscal agent and 501(c)(3) partner.
“Anyone who wishes to donate funds can make checks payable to the Bartow Collaborative.”
For more information, visit www.bartowgiveakidachance.com or on Facebook at bartowgiveakidachance.