A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northern Kentucky Harvest Backpacks and Breakfast today gave free school supplies to students

To ease the financial burden low-income families face as they send their kids back to school, more than 900 backpacks filled with school supplies were given away today at the 17th annual Backpacks and Breakfast event put on by Northern Kentucky Harvest.

The event was this morning in Goebel Park at Fifth and Philadelphia streets in Covington’s MainStrasse. It included free breakfast served in the park, courtesy of Frisch’s, a partner in the event since its inception.

For low-income families, free school supplies can make a big difference in the family budget.

The annual Backpack Index, released last month, found the cost of classroom school supplies for an elementary student totaled $181.86 while the cost school supplies for a middle-schooler totaled $341.89 and for a high school student $392.12. When common school activity fees are included the cost climbs to $662 for elementary students, $1,001 for middle school students and $1,489 for high school students, according to the index which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

The index has tracked classroom supply and school fee costs passed on to parents since 2007 to highlight the added burden of public school expenses beyond assessed taxes.

The annual Backpacks and Breakfast event began in 2001 to help low-income families and is open to qualified families in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.

“We recognized that back-to-school expenses posed a real hardship for low-income families already struggling to pay for food, housing, utilities, transportation and health care,” Paul Gottbrath, president of Northern Kentucky Harvest, said of the event which over the years has given away more than 10,000 backpacks and has grown to become the largest school readiness event in Northern Kentucky.

The backpacks filled with new grade-specific school supplies will be given away on a first-come, first served basis to low-income families.

Besides Frisch’s, major sponsors of the event are the Butler Foundation and the R.C. Durr Foundation. Also supporting it financially are the Summertime Kids Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Humana CareSource, the Western & Southern Financial Fund, St. Pius X Church and Sofaburn Records.

Additionally, Zwicker & Associates, a Hebron law firm; St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring; the Covington Moose Lodge; Community of Faith Presbyterian Church; and Ross College hosted school supply drives for the event.

Northern Kentucky Harvest is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that collects food, clothing and other supplies for food banks and other organizations that serve low-income families in Northern Kentucky.

To contribute, make checks out to Northern Kentucky Harvest, c/o Be Concerned, 714 Washington St., Covington, Ky., 41011. All donations are tax deductible. For more information or to volunteer, contact Paul Gottbrath at (859) 750-2813 or paulgottbrath@gmail.com.

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