Before Hurricane Harvey hit, we [at Church of the Apostles, or COTA] were already planning on doing a backpack drive for Love Elementary, one of the highest-need schools in Houston, and our neighbors two blocks away. It became significantly more important after the hurricane, however, when we realized that these children who already had little now, in many circumstances, had nothing. Providing backpacks and school supplies is a tangible way for us to serve not only the students, but also their families who are trying to piece back together lives, and the teachers and administration who are frequently using their own funds to fill in the gap for their students.
Backpacks and supplies may seem like small things, but to children living in the midst of post-Harvey chaos, they can provide an amount of comfort and stability that can be rare right now.
This became particularly evident to me when I walked a kindergartener from our shelter into her first day of school at a neighboring school to Love. She was in an entirely new neighborhood, school, and even culture, as it was her first time to attend a non-bilingual school. She clutched her backpack from COTA so tightly as we walked in, wearing it like a shield around her front. As she sat down at her desk, the first smile I saw from her in days was when she realized that she had in her backpack exactly what the other children had with them as well—crayons. That small yellow box of colors became a way for her to find commonality with her new classmates, and security knowing that she was cared for even in small ways.