CRI distributes 350 backpacks to children

PARKERSBURG -Staff at Community Resources Inc. Thursday started the annual distribution of 350 backpacks for Wood County school children.

Ryan Barber, county operating coordinator for Community Resources Inc., said most of the backpacks were gone Thursday. He said every phone call the office has received recently has been inquiring about the backpack program.

This is at least the 15th year CRI has distributed the backpacks.

A few weeks ago about 1,000 backpacks were assembled by area student volunteers through a program from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley. The backpacks are being distributed to school children in the Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Doddridge, Wirt and Wood counties, Belpre and Little Hocking school systems.

The United Way Alliance works with Community Resources, the Williamstown Welfare League and Belpre Area Ministries to distribute the bags. Backpack distribution in Pleasants County will start Monday. They will be distributed Tuesday in Ritchie County and on Friday in Tyler County.

The backpacks are age appropriate for elementary, middle and high school children; containing markers, pens, coloring books, notebooks, rulers, highlighters and dental hygiene packs.

Barber said similar programs are available in Wood County schools, but students – particularly middle and high school students – are apprehensive about requesting backpacks from teachers.

“It’s more private here,” he said. “Parents can come here and pick up the bags without students having to ask.”

CRI services low-to-moderate income families experiencing hardships. Barber said it provides an array of services.

“Needs go from housing and utilities support to nutrition,” he said.

In 2012 CRI provided services for over 2,000 households in Wood County. Barber said so far this year they had 1,500 households request assistance.

“It’s a huge increase,” he said.