Community leaders help fill backpacks going to help preschoolers in Grand Rapids

(MLIVE) GRAND RAPIDS– With 350 out of 400 needed backpacks filled, a group focused on preschool learning and its volunteers are taking a weight off of children and parent’s backs.

Community leaders were part of the effort to fill the hundreds of backpacks Tuesday, Sept. 14 following a three-week supply drive by the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative.

Because of the “fill the backpacks” effort, 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds will have the necessary school supplies to set them up for the current school year.

Those who helped fill the backpacks included community leaders such as Bing Goei, president of Eastern Floral and director at State of Michigan Office For New Americans, and Jon Covington, founder of Men of Color Read and president of Jon Covington Group. Items inside the bags ranged from pencils, notebooks, lanyards, crayons and more.

Goei admires the ELNC’s ambitions.

“We need more of their work and their efforts in our community,” Goei said. “That’s why I’m here.”

Angela Cunningham-Burrows, ELNC’s director of Fund Development and Communications, said having the right supplies is key to setting up preschoolers for success.

“A vast percentage of our young learners arrive for preschool without backpacks or basic supplies, so this first-ever school supply drive is a small but significant step. ELNC is setting the bar high,” Cunningham-Burrows said. “We’re working to create a foundation for success starting the moment these young children walk into our doors.”

Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, founder and CEO of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, is happy with what was accomplished during the event, but wants to complete the organization’s goal of 400 backpacks.

“We are so happy to say out of the 400 backpacks we have enough supplies to fill 350 backpacks,” Ezeh said.

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