Rockford Police hand out 400 free backpacks to area students


The Rockford Police Benevolent and Protective Association teamed up with Bear Family McDonald’s to give away free backpacks to hundreds of area students.

Students and parents lined up and down the block outside Living Faith Tabernacle Annex in Rockford on Wednesday, with excited kids ready to pick up free backpacks filled with school supplies.

“We understand that the cost of school and sending kids to school can be pretty expensive for a family,” said Officer Jessie Washington of the Rockford Police Department. “And so, we’re trying to just defer some of the costs, so that way the kids can go to school and focus on their education and have a good school year.”

David Bear, a McDonald’s franchise owner, said, “Inside of every backpack is paper, pencils, rulers, erasers…common things you need to go to school, for most kids from K through 12th grade.”

The donations will help local teachers, too. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of public school teachers pay for classroom supplies.

“If we didn’t do this, if we didn’t partner to do this, then they may not have those school supplies,” Ofc. Washington said. “We’ve seen where the teachers, it has to come out of their pockets in order to provide kids with school supplies. It’s a real expense.”

According to a 2018 school shopping guide by Deloitte, school supplies, on average, can run $112 per student.

“It’s great to see the community galvanized around a common purpose, which is the community well being,” Bear said. “It’s nice to see folks are coming out here to get their backpacks and be prepared for school.”

Ofc. Washington said, “Whatever we can do to give back, to build our community up and make it better, we’re here to do that. That’s what we’re here for.”

In total, about 400 backpacks were handed out on Wednesday, at both Faith Tabernacle and District One Police Headquarters.

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