Families in need get free school supplies - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Families in need get free school supplies

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Six year old Makenzlie McDowell is all ready to head to first grade.

"I like gym and art," said Makenzlie

Makenzlie and more than one thousand other kids went to The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids to pick up school supplies.

"I really appreciate the service," said Lori McDowell, Makenzlie's Mom. "We do come here often and eat meals."

CR Packs for Kids was a first-time event. Several not-for-profits that used to do back-to-school events on their own teamed up to help more people.

"It definitely makes it easier for everybody," said Henry Davison, H.D. Youth Center.

Anyone needing help paying for school supplies could pick up free backpacks loaded with gear. Officials say back to school costs around $100 per child.

"It's a lot of money to spend on school supplies if you can't get help like this," said Jessica Molyneux, Mother of Five.

"When you have five kids, it's a real problem and it means having to skip on groceries or electric bills to go buy those supplies that kids need to go back to school and we don't want to have parents make that decision," said Lia Pontarelli, The Salvation Army.

People started lining up two hours before the doors opened because they knew it was a first-come, first-served basis. The Salvation Army ran out of backpacks in the first 45 minutes.

"It's kind of discouraging," said Aleshia Mohan, who didn't get supplies. "Because it's, you know, limited income family, single family, and I don't have the money to go and buy all the supplies that the schools need."

The volunteers took down contact information for families who didn't get school supplies and will work to get backpacks for their kids, too.

Hopefully those kids will be as happy as Makenzlie.

"I think it's cute because hearts and peace signs are my favorite," said Makenzlie.

The salvation army is still taking monetary donations.Any extra money will go towards purchasing supplies next year. For more information, click here.

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