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Middle School helps kids in need, one backpack at a time

Middle School helps kids in need, one backpack at a time

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Middle school can be a tough time for tweens, and struggles like hunger or poverty add a whole other level of challenges for students.

But one Richland middle school is tackling this problem, one backpack at a time.

You might think a middle schooler in need of food and clothes would be embarrassed to ask for help. But folks at Chief Joseph Middle School and Richland Baptist Church are trying a new way to help kids feel more comfortable.

“You have brothers and sisters; is there something you need for them?” Jill Loftus asked a seventh grader.

It's called Friday backpacks. Nearly fifty students at the middle school pick up a backpack every Friday, filled with essentials.

“I'm an immigrant from Iraq,” seventh grader Alameer Almohammedawi said. “We can't afford all these things, so this really helped me out.”

Organizers said students love picking up their weekly supplies.

“From my sixth period, we go together so we can get our stuff. It's exciting,” Almohammedawi said.

“They're excited; they're very happy,” said Tina Burruss, Action Team and Partnership chair. “They always like to look through and see what's in there. It's a surprise every week.”

Richland Baptist Church first reached out to the school, asking if they could help.

“As a church we didn't see all the needs that were around us,” youth minister Ron Shelby said. “The teachers that were around the kids every day saw that more clearly.”

Now volunteers help with donations and organizing the supply room.

“If our kids aren't fed, they're going to have a hard time learning,” Loftus said. “If they're cold, they're going to have a hard time learning.”

And Friday backpacks give students the peace of mind that they’ll have everything they need—and that it's okay to ask for help.

“I'm proud of my school,” Almohammedawi said. “What they're doing; they're helping lots of kids out.”

The school's leaders say they're always looking for partnerships in the community.

If you would like to donate to the Friday backpack program, just reach out to Chief Joseph Middle School or Richland Baptist church. Organizers said they are happy to pick up donations as well.

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