Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 26

Paying for
the three R's
ISTOCK.COM / ARTISTEER

Programs help families
with back-to-school expenses
BY ROSALYN DUNN

ISTOCK.COM /

ARTISTEER

F

HAYLEY ROBERSON

or many Georgia
schoolchildren,
back-to-school
shopping is a rite of
passage. Packs of paper,
pencils and new backpacks are a given. But if
those purchases strain a
family's budget, groups
such as Give A Kid A
Chance (GAKAC) in Cherokee County stand ready
to fill in the fiscal gap.
In 2006, members of
Liberty Hill United Methodist Church in Canton
were inspired to undertake
an effort to equip needy children for school. Volunteers
coordinated with two other local churches to serve 100
children.
That effort led to Give A Kid A Chance, a nonprofit
program that aims to make sure children have everything they need to be ready for the first day of school.
GAKAC President Cory Steinberg says that in the program's first year there were as many volunteers as there
were children participating. By 2007, the program had
grown to include 21 churches, civic groups and businesses that handed out 1,000 backpacks. In 2016, its
biggest year to date, GAKAC served 3,400 children.
Last year, the Cherokee County School District
became an official partner with GAKAC to further its
mission of fostering a partnership between parents and
public entities, including businesses, civic organizations
and colleges. Since GAKAC began, more than 50 churches, businesses and civic groups have helped make sure
26

Back-to-school drives like Give
A Kid A Chance supply children
with needed school supplies as
well as new and gently used
clothing.

that 19,000 children are
ready for school.
"That's only about
25 percent of the kids
who qualify for free or
reduced-price lunch in
Cherokee County," Steinberg says. "As
the population has grown, so has the need."
And that need is significant.

Tracking rising costs
Ohio-based Huntington Bank surveys school-supply
lists nationwide and calculates an annual back-to-school
cost. Its 2017 Backpack Index found that these costs
average $650 for elementary school students, $1,000 for
middle schoolers and $1,500 for high schoolers-costs
that have nearly doubled in the last 10 years.
That reality has spurred the growth of local responses. GAKAC's annual one-day event, which is free
and requires no proof of need, is held at two locations
in Cherokee County to provide families with easy access. During their visits, children select new backpacks
filled with school supplies and are given haircuts. They
also can get the medical, dental and vision screenings
required for school enrollment. In recent years, GAKAC's
program has expanded to include Give A Little Kid A

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - June 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - 11
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Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - June 2018 - Cover4
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