Thousands of students in KELOLAND will make their way back to school next week. While that can bring joy to many, the cost of going back to class is simply too much for a growing number of families.
That’s why hundreds of volunteers work at The Banquet in downtown Sioux Falls on Friday. Their mission is to stuff backpacks for Project S.O.S. For some, packing up pencils, notebooks and crayons is a back-to-school tradition.
"It started out with my family and it just kind of expanded as we got older. So it's just a blast to be able to come and volunteer with family," Paige Leuthold said.
Leuthold will be a freshman this year at the University of Sioux Falls. Her cousin Gracie Bosch will be in eighth grade in Luverne. Their grandmother started their family tradition and has instilled in them why an event like this is important.
"I just want to help kids and know that they're going to be getting stuff that even if they can't afford it they're going to be getting stuff and be ready for school," Bosch said.
Once filled, the backpacks will go to students from the Sioux Falls School District and surrounding communities. Altogether, about 6,400 students will receive their supplies from Project S.O.S.
Leuthold and Bosch may never meet the students who will receive the backpacks they pack, but they know the needed supplies will bring them joy, much like the joy they feel knowing they're making a difference for fellow students.
"It feels good to be able to help people knowing I can just have stuff like that and we can give it to them just like I have it," Bosch said.
"For those who have a lot, they can go and help those who don't have very much so I think that's a great way to proclaim Christ," Leuthold said.
The backpacks will be distributed starting a 9 a.m. Saturday at Whittier Middle School. However, nobody will be allowed to line up outside the school before 7 a.m. The student must be present and have some kind of ID in order to receive a backpack.
Also, The Banquet is still in need of monetary and school supply donations for Project S.O.S. That's because they'll distribute supplies to students for the entire school year.