Group aims to provide school supplies to more than 500 kids

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Pencils, pens and backpacks are back on store shelves and that means back to school shopping is upon us. But for many families, stocking up for the school year can mean breaking the bank. That's why one local organization is stepping in to help out.

An effort called Love Eau Claire is on a mission to help more than 500 kids get ready to go back to school.

“We started helping to provide weekend meals at Longfellow Elementary School and Love Eau Claire has grown from there,” Pastor James Whatley explained.

Pastor Whatley and members of Peace Lutheran Church started Love Eau Claire 5 years ago with a goal of providing kids a fresh start to the school year and lifting financial pressure off of parents struggling to pay for school supplies.

“Our goal is to provide a new backpack to every kid in Eau Claire if they need one,” Whatley explained.

In addition to the backpacks, during a handout event kids also get their pick of gently used clothes. On top of all of that doctors and hairstylists are also on hand to provide checkups and give kids a fresh hair cut before they start their first day of school.

“It's a sigh of relief for the parents to have this for their kids,” Volunteer Patty Marten said.

The sighs of relief from parents and the smiles put on kids’ faces is what's driving the group to put on their biggest event yet, That's why they're asking the community to pitch in and help

“We would love for Eau Claire to go out and buy a new backpack, notebooks and school supplies and we can get them out to the kids that need it,” Whatley said.

Whatley says every little bit counts in the end when smiles fill the faces of kids ready to kick off their school year with a fresh start.

“What sets Eau Claire apart is it's a beacon of hope. It has a huge heart for people and the community will step up if there is a need,” he added.

School supply donations can be dropped off at Peace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire or Green Oasis Garden Center in Lake Hallie.

Kids and families looking to receive supplies from Love EC can pick them up at an event being held from 5-7 pm on August 12 at Longfellow Elementary.