116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Before kids return to school in the fall, they’ll have an opportunity to pick up a free backpack and supplies from We Care Daycare.
The day care center is holding a backpack giveaway on Saturday, planning to give away backpacks to any and all returning students in need in Wellington Heights and surrounding communities.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but it will go until the day care runs out of backpacks, director Consuelo Steel-Cherry said.
The day care center, located at 1445 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, was started by Steel-Cherry and her sister Tacora Steel-Gossitt, in the building of the old Henry Davison Youth Center, which closed in 2019.
Steel-Cherry said the idea for the backpack giveaway came from seeing the need for aid in the community. A former employee of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Steel-Cherry said she saw kids from the area coming back every year without enough supplies, and parents who were struggling to provide everything.
“With that vision and knowing the things that our community as a whole has been facing, I just felt like this would be the best thing to help offset the school year for parents,” she said.
The backpacks will be loaded with school supplies like pencils, pens, binders and folders, to help offset more costs that low-income parents may be facing.
A lack of supplies and a backpack can make students feel ostracized from the other kids at school, Steel-Cherry said.
“I think they’re gonna be really excited, just knowing that they’re ready and they will look like all of their other friends,” she said.
This is the first year the 2-year-old day care is giving away backpacks, and Steel-Cherry said they had the goal of giving away 100 backpacks this year. They’ve already gathered more than that, with around 120.
She hopes to keep adding onto that in the future, setting a goal of 200 backpacks for next year.
Local businesses have come together to support the giveaway, Steel-Cherry said, with more than a dozen donating backpacks to the cause.
TCD International, One Umbrella Event Planning, Coca-Cola, Steel Care Service, Maria Hancock Real Estate, and Brianna Young, an Iowa Senate candidate, are among the companies and people who have donated backpacks and supplies.
“The community has been phenomenal, a lot of small businesses have poured in a lot of these backpacks,” she said.
The day care is asking parents to bring kids along to the event, and they’ll be providing free food and drink, provided by the I’m Soul Hungry food truck and Coca-Cola.
Allison Laughridge of One Umbrella Event Planning said she’s been friends with the day care’s owners for years and wanted to help out their cause. She donated 10 backpacks and pencils and binders.
Laughridge said she likes to donate to community causes because they’ve helped her business grow, and it’s important to give back.
“In order for our kids to learn, they need to be equipped with what they need to make learning easier for them, and some parents still don’t have the money to make that happen,” she said.
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