Free backpacks for students on Aug. 13

The 16th annual Backpack Project will take place at Granville Baptist Church at 23 Quaker St. in Granville on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Students from Granville Central School District as well as those from Wells Village School and Mettawee Community School from pre-K through grade 12 may pick up a backpack and all supplies needed, free of charge.

Parents must accompany their children to receive their school supplies.

The Backpack Project program is held in memory of the late Steve Schinski and has grown every year, reaching hundreds of children.

Ann Schinski started the program based on her husband’s generosity towards others and her upbringing in a community-oriented family.

“He was a very generous person. He was a farmer and he was the type of person that wouldn’t leave you a bag of corn, he would leave you 54 ears of corn!” Ann Schinski said. “I think it does as much for me as it does the families to receive. I’ve really gotten to know the families over the years.”

The motivation for the project originated when Schinski weighed out how much money really goes into supplying a child with the needed resources for school.

“We turned away people that first year and said, ‘oh, that’s never going to happen again’,” Shinski said.

The program continues each year, after the first year serviced 45 individuals, because of donations from numerous local businesses, organizations and individual donors with all donations going directly to the cost of the school supplies and backpacks.

“These people are so generous to the town,” Schinski said.

Schinski said it’s heartwarming to see individuals who were once recipients of the program now understand the lesson of giving back to those in need and participating as helpers to the project.

When asked what it means on a personal level to be a part of something bigger than herself especially in times when rising inflation, split families and unemployment run rampant and are constantly present, Schinski tried not to get emotional.

“It’s very humbling for me, especially when I see the lines of people. They’re so grateful,” she said. “We plan on keeping it going for a long time.”

Tax-deductible donations are accepted throughout the year and can be sent to “The Backpack Project,” c/o Ann Schinski, 5075 Vermont Route 31, Poultney, VT 05764.

For additional information on donating to the project or to volunteer for the Aug. 13 event, contact Schinski at 802-236-4726.