“The schoolkit was the best thing he had ever received.”

The Lee County, Kentucky, Family Resource Center (FRC) operates out of the Beattyville Elementary School, located in what The New York Times lists as one of the “hardest” places to live in the United States.

aha-lfrc_bts_caleb_dsc_2420

This Lee County boy is very proud of his box of school supplies.

What that means is the unemployment and poverty rates are well above the national average, drug use is rampant and for children growing up in this county defined as “distressed” by the Appalachian Regional Commission, life is truly hard.

aha-lfrc_bts_family-drunk-driver-dsc_2422

Boys and girls and their parents crowded into the school to pick out their backpacks and school supplies.

But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® and our partnership with the FRC hundreds of Beattyville students had big smiles on their faces at the school’s recent “Readifest” event and received backpacks filled with school supplies – everything they need to get off to a successful new school year.

The event is organized each year by FRC director Sherry Lanham, who told us that crowds were gathered early that day for the back-to-school event, with some lining up at 11 p.m. the night before and standing outside all night until the doors opened the next morning at 9 a.m.

Among the recipients of school supplies this year is Troy, a special needs boy being raised by his grandparents who are on a very limited income. “He was so thrilled to receive his school supplies,” said Sherry. “He told me and the school counsel that now he would have supplies ‘just like all the other kids.’”

Another family who benefited from receiving school supplies had just been hit by a drunk driver, leaving both parents out of work for at least several months and wheelchair-bound.

“This family had never asked for help in the past, but were so grateful this year,” Sherry reported. “They said the school kits were ‘a big blessing.’”

aha-lfrc_bts_grandparents_img_3289

These two grandmothers were almost in tears when they saw all that the children were getting.

LaShawna, a young girl with purple hair, wanted a backpack to match her hair color “and thanks to Americans Helping Americans® we were able to make sure that happened,” Sherry said.

Courtney was very happy because blue is her favorite color and she got exactly the color she wanted. “Her dad just lost his job and her family was very worried about school supplies,” Sherry told us. “The backpack was a major help to them.

FRC sends out a needs survey to parents at the beginning of the school year.

“We received over 500 responses and more than 75 percent mentioned the school kits and how wonderful they were. One little boy even said on Readifest day, the kit was the best thing he had ever received.”