NORMAL — Nida Kazim is planning a big party — and she’s getting a lot of help.
The event, for more than 1,000 Twin City students who will need school supplies this fall, isn’t until August. But volunteers are preparing now by collecting items throughout the Twin Cities.
“We started planning a little earlier this year,” said Kazim, adding the core group of volunteers is about 20 people, but includes “100-plus volunteers” who will turn out on Aug. 11 to distribute the supplies at the annual Back to School Party.
The biggest task is making sure that there are enough backpacks, pens, pencils, calculators and other supplies to go around.
The Aug. 11 party is being moved this year to U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington, replacing Horton Field House at Illinois State University. A key advantage for the Back to School Alliance is the Coliseum is air conditioned and should have better access, said Kazim, who is in her second year leading the campaign.
Besides the distribution, there will be information handed out, food and activities for kids.
“I just think it’s important that not only do all students start with what they need at school, but also that they come to the event and see that the entire community wants them to be
successful,” said Kazim.
“This is why we come together every year to help them get what they need and want them to know that we support their education and want them to succeed. That is why having the event is so important to us; it is a clear sign for everyone involved that this is a caring, strong community,” she said.
Initially, Kazim was asked to lead the effort because of her experience as a project manager at Country Financial, and her willingness to volunteer to help kids and families.
“I do what I do here (at Country), but on a larger scale,” she said, noting that in the Twin Cities more than 4,000 students qualify as low income. The school supplies campaign hopes to serve a lot of those kids, as well as provide any leftover supplies to schools to hand out as needed throughout the year.