SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Although leaving summer behind is a chore for just about anyone, back to school shopping is something many kids look forward to. New clothes, fresh kicks, color coordinated supplies - the newness of it all can be exciting.
However, it can also be a daunting task for others. According to the National Retail Federation, families shopping for kids in elementary through high school will spend, in total, $29.5 billion. Having the money and resources to do so is a privilege some parents and children don't get to experience.
But, that's where the generous people of South Mississippi stepped in to help.
In the weeks leading up to the first day of school for the 2017-2018 school year, the altruism of the Gulf Coast was on full display. Nonprofits, sororities, fraternities, churches, and even political leaders pulled together their networks to help Coast scholars prepare to hit the books.
In Gulfport, Rep. Sonya Williams Barnes hosted her annual event, District 119 Gives Back. With a goal of giving away at least 119 backpacks, dozens of people lined up to receive supplies. Not too far away, Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry's Dr. Kinaytta Bennett hosted an inaugural school supply giveaway in honor of her late husband, Dr. Christopher Bennett. Within just one hour, Dr. Bennett gave way 400 backpacks full of supplies.
There's a saying that when you look good, you feel good; and men on the Coast made sure young boys can do just that.
The Gulfport alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity partnered with Cut Doctors to give away free haircuts and supplies. On Aug. 7, Chris' Beauty College and the brothers of Mt. Olive Lodge #83 are joining forces to also give away free haircuts.
Hundreds showed up Moss Point's annual Back To School Rally. Pencils, paper, food, and fun were all part of the event.
Perhaps the United Way of South Mississippi had the most literal representation of heading back to school. The organization partnered with Walmart to fill school buses with supplies. Donations from the six participating stores are being delivered to 10 local school districts.
While this recap doesn't touch every donation effort on the Coast, it does show the heart and compassion residents have for children in the community. Thousands of backpacks, notebooks, pencils, and crayons were distributed to students in need. No matter how small the donation, it was one that made a big difference.
But, just because the thrill of the first day will soon be gone, don't let the spirit of helping children succeed diminish.
There are many ways to give back during the school year, including: volunteering, adopting a classroom, even mentoring. To find out how to lend a hand, contact the school district in your area.