CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker joined a back-to-school effort Wednesday on Chicago's South Side.
The work is part of the Cradles to Crayons "Ready for Learning" initiative that will supply 60,000 Chicago area kids with backpacks full of pencils, folders and more. It is the largest school supply distribution effort in our area.
"(It helps) deliver for the children of our communities who otherwise go into a free public school that isn't really free," Pritzker said.
Employees and volunteers working at the new Discover Customer Care center in Chatham put together more than 12,000 back to school bundles.
State Sen. Elgie Sims, a Democrat who represents Illinois' 17th District, spoke to volunteers at the event.
"We have plenty of problems, we can talk about them all day, but to make sure that we are focused on our future, that is what this is truly all about," Sims said.
Cradles to Crayons says if you add up all the supplies a child needs for back to school, the average cost is $320. The group, which helps children experiencing poverty, says they have seen the need increase dramatically during the pandemic.
"One of the top 10 reasons kids don't go to school is that they don't have the right supplies, and so we want to be able to provide for them, so that means we are able to give them some equity in terms of just the basic essentials to get them back into the door of school," said Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons Chicago.
And after the last pandemic-school year, the goal is to give thousands of kids a boost to start fresh this fall.
You can help with the school supply drive at https://www.cradlestocrayons.org/chicago/